Research In Motion, makers of the BlackBerry smartphone, have introduced BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, a solution that will allow enterprise customers to manage multiple devices including mobile phones and tablets running Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, in addition to BlackBerry devices, from a single web-based console. According to the company, the solution combines in BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server for BlackBerry phones, management capabilities for BlackBerry’s Playbook tablet which was till now not supported and for Android and iOS devices (iPhone, iPad). The solution is in closed beta and RIM has started accepting customer nominations for the program which will start in January, with general availability expected in late March. The announcement was expected, since RIM had acquired Ubitexx, the company that had created the ubi-Suite device management solution, in May 2011 and had promised that it would release a multi-platform device management solution by the end of the year.

– Features: The solution will offer device management capabilities including Security and policy definition and management, remote locking and wiping of stolen/lost devices, user and group based administration, application and software management, connectivity management and others. However, RIM categorically mentions that capabilities will vary according to the inherent capabilities of the individual device operating systems. IT departments of businesses enforce security, encryption and management policies to prevent data theft and regulate device use. While this was done through BES when BlackBerries were the only communication devices that were issued to employees, of late, companies have started using devices based on other platforms or let employees get their own devices to be configured based on the company’s IT policy.

Why RIM wants to offer management features for devices based on other platforms?

– Following the launch, companies already using RIM’s BES will be able to move to a multi-platform server-side set-up without the need to invest in other web or server based solutions, so RIM wants to retain its stronghold over the enterprise security segment, although it acknowledges that other devices are increasingly replacing its own devices in corporate environments.

– Also, RIM’s Playbook lacks inbuilt support for BES and is only able to access the service through a bridge-connection with a BlackBerry smartphone. As this Forbes report points out, the tool will bring in push capabilities including email, calendar and other personal information management services, making it enticing for corporates, since the device has failed to garner sales. This is also important since future BlackBerry mobile devices will be based on BBX, the QNX based mobile operating system that the Playbook features.