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Multi-platform device management with BlackBerry Mobile Fusion

With BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, IT can perform some multi-platform device management tasks. But without full features for iOS and Android, it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

With Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, organizations can manage a multi-platform mobile workforce from a single interface. But Mobile Fusion isn’t a comprehensive MDM option, so admins should carefully assess whether it has all the features they need.

Research In Motion (RIM) has seen BlackBerry sales plummet in recent years, due in large part to the high level of competition in the smartphone market. Yet what has continued to set RIM apart from other mobile vendors is BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), a mobile device management (MDM) product that consolidates mobile device security and administration into a single, unified system.

Now, RIM is reaching beyond its shrinking corner of the market with BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a multi-platform device management system that manages BlackBerry smartphones, PlayBook tablets and future BlackBerry 10 devices, as well as Apple iOS and Android devices. From the Web-based interface, called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion Studio, administrators can provision, protect and audit each device and secure its email and data.

Mobile Fusion for BlackBerry vs. iOS, Android

While BlackBerry Mobile Fusion makes significant inroads in the multi-platform device management market, it’s important to recognize that the product’s support for iOS and Android devices is not nearly as robust as it is for BlackBerry devices.

Some features of Mobile Fusion are specific to BlackBerry devices. For example, BlackBerry Mobile Fusion uses the end-to-end BES security infrastructure, but it also supports over-the-air application and software installation capabilities, so administrators can remotely install, update, audit and delete business applications on BlackBerry devices. IT can wirelessly synchronize work email and apply settings and policies to BlackBerry devices the same way they can with BES. These are features that admins managing BlackBerries are used to now, but they aren’t transferable to iOS and Android devices through Mobile Fusion.  

BlackBerry Mobile Fusion and BES work together to provide tools for accessing and managing BlackBerry devices, which simplifies policy enforcement and device configuration. Plus, Mobile Fusion uses the 256-bit advanced encryption standard to provide secure communications. Administrators can set password requirements for users, enable encryption on devices and remotely lock or wipe lost or stolen devices. IT can wipe an entire device if necessary, but BlackBerry Mobile Fusion allows admins to isolate corporate data on a BlackBerry device and wipe only that information.

Although these and other capabilities are available only for BlackBerry devices, what’s nice about Mobile Fusion is that it allows IT to manage BlackBerry, iOS and Android from the BlackBerry Mobile Fusion Studio interface. As a result, admins can perform all tasks related to multi-platform device management from one centralized console. IT can control security and configuration policies, implement secure protections, such as remote lock and wipe, and manage mobile users and groups of mobile devices. Admins can also access common management tasks across device platforms and view all devices in one place, all with easy access to the tools they need to manage and control devices.

BlackBerry Mobile Fusion: Good, not great

More on BlackBerry Mobile Fusion

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BlackBerry Mobile Fusion: RIM knows it’s in trouble

BlackBerry Mobile Fusion (BES)

The bring your own device trend that has taken over the enterprise can’t be ignored, and mobile device management is a critical part of protecting sensitive data. If users in your organization work on iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices, Mobile Fusion might be a viable option, given RIM’s sterling reputation for MDM with BES. Keep in mind, however, that RIM is new to the iOS and Android markets.

BlackBerry Mobile Fusion can help solve the problem of multi-platform device management, assuming your users only bring iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices to work. If your organization supports other platforms, such as Windows Phone, IT will require a separate management system.

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We looked at the Fusion product and were quite disappointed. It still uses Exchange active sync! I was expecting the BES server to place its hooks into exchange and Blackberry to supply its own email, calendaring, contacts for Android and iOS. Other products out their do it a lot better, so needless to say, I am very disappointed in Fusion. Just goes to show that this is indeed a sinking ship.....