An inside look into the just released BlackBerry Management Center

We all recognise that having Blackberry smartphones helps us work better as they connect to the network, get our emails, store our important documents, images of the kids and inappropriate video of the boss singing at the Christmas party.

The problem has always been – what do I do if my phone is stolen/ lost ? all the confidential info on it can be viewed by anyone who finds it. Wouldnt be great if YouTube had a video of you impersonating your boss now would it ???

This problem is no longer a problem when Blackberry announced Blackberry Protect. However, this is still cumbersome to use if you have more than one device in your business. What happens if you have 100 users ? how do you manage them ? How do you make sure that each employee had indeed installed the Protect software ? How do you also fix each person’s Blackberry when they play with the settings and are no longer able to receive mail ?

Well, it is clear that RIM is listening to their customers.

For a long time we have been asking for a better way to manage the various Blackberry devices. Not all of us have massive IT departments and we don’t all have the skills/ time/ effort/ inclination to work out how to manage the Blackberry the make our business work. What we need is a central, easy to use, console – it looks like RIM has delivered an awesome solution !

If you are a company that has 100 people or less – then check out the new Blackberry Management Center.

By the way: it is FREE !

So What is the BlackBerry Management Center ?

Free Online Service Helps Small Businesses Centrally Manage and Protect BlackBerry Smartphones in the Cloud”

The BlackBerry® Management Center is a service that hosted in the cloud. You log into it via a website and you are able to preform various high-end management of your various Blackberry devices that your users have. All with simple clicks of the mouse and no real IT skill required.

Depending on the administrator permissions set by each user, you can:

  • Add / Remove email addresses on the user’s phone
  • Manage settings for email addresses
  • Administer BlackBerry Protect to help protect smartphone data and help locate a smartphone if it is lost or stolen
  • Wirelessly back up BlackBerry smartphones automatically on a daily, weekly or monthly basis to aid in the recovery of lost business-related content stored on the handset
  • Protect content on an employee’s lost or stolen BlackBerry smartphone by remotely locking it and, if necessary, wiping the contents, including the microSD card
  • Locate a lost BlackBerry smartphone by remotely locking it, initiating a loud ring, and displaying a message on the Home screen
  • Easily restore the settings and content on a new or replacement device
  • Reset a password

Did I mention all this can be preformed from a website for all 100 users with a few simple clicks ?

Did I also mention this is FREE ?

Here is what it looks like:

After you log in and set yourself as the administrator, you are able to add users:

Blackberry console

Your users will receive and email asking them to join the Blackberry Management Center:

blackberry console - email

They will be required to enter their info:

blackberry console - device

and will be sent a Confirmation Code to verify that they are who they say they are:

blackberry console - code

The user has full control of what they allow the administrator to manage:

blackberry console - permision

The administrator can see the following after the users sign up:

blackberry console - user options

I like these features that the Administrator can initiate directly from the website:

image

You will notice that the Administrator can now manage the email accounts on the phone.

With various options including Signatures, Email Server settings, Synch options, Filters etc.:

blackberry console - email options

The Administrator is also able to send communication to the individual users and/or the entire user group via this console:

blackberry console - msg users

Important links:

Where do I sign up for FREE :  www.blackberry.com/managementcenter.

Press release : http://crackberry.com/press-release-rim-announces-blackberry-management-center-small-business

6 comments

  1. This looks gr8 Liron thx – do you off-hand know whether it will enable me to set up my hosted exchange environment to sync my emails with my hosted BES? My diary works gr8 and I get full 2 way syncing, however, my emails that I delete in Outlook do not get deleted on my BB which means I have to delete the same email twice – a real pain.

    1. hmmm – good question:
      I can see that you can change the setting for a POP or IMAP email system and you can also manage the setting for Outlook Web Access.
      Obviously, the BlackBerry Management Center just allows you to manage these setting remotely and doesn’t replace the BES server.

      You might find that you are set up to have Calendar synch over the air but not your mail which is set up as POP or IMAP. If you have BES server at work, then the setting you need will be on there.

  2. I have mixed feelings about this.

    Its a good start at providing small businesses a cloud solution. Its great that its also free.

    It still however just a centralization of RIM’s current Blackberry Internet service and Black Protect offerings. The management center does not offer any of RIM’s unique management features ( and policies) which usually cause organization to choose blackberry/BES/BESX package over an Exchange Active Sync only set-up. As such, it does not exactly stack up well against Exchange Active Sync on mobile devices ( like iphone & Android), which is currently the principal threat to RIM in the Small business market (in North America).

    In fact Exchange Active sync arguable offers a better user experience and productivity on iPhone & Android by offering real-time two synchronization of Email, Calendar & Contacts and access to the Global Address List on the server. Exchange Active sync also levels the playing field by offering remote wipe, device lock and a dozen or so additional policies.

    So although it might appeal to small business that do not run their own Exchange server( or lack the resources to deploy and configure Exchange Active sync) it does nothing to stem the tide of business opting for an Exchange Active sync only.

    How can it be improved ?

    The utility and appeal of this product can be greatly increased if RIM upgrades it in the future such that it acts as a cloud server that enables real-time two synchronization of Email, Calendar & Contacts between a business’s Exchange server and a blackberry.

    1. Thank you for your comment.
      I agree that Exchange Active sync has more features/facilities, however this product isn’t meant to be a direct competitor.
      This is RIM’s answer to the basic questions of: “what do I do with my BB users ? how do I protect them & my info on the phone ? and how do I do remote support ?”
      I have a feeling that this is the first step towards offering more features/ enhancement to this cloud based solution. Just as BB Protect came out we didnt expect it to be wrapped up into this solution, I have a feeling that there are more up their sleeves and based on great feedback like you suggested in your comment, I am sure we will see enhancements.

      Lets watch this space !

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