The Enterprise Is Important. Let’s Get It Right.

BlackBerry z10 photo (BlackBerry)

One of the most striking features of much tech writing today is its near total ignorance about corporate software and systems. Except for sites like ComputerWorld and others that specialize in the enterprise, reporting is sparse and when it appears, often wrong.

This tendency has been glaringly revealed in a lot of the writing about the new BlackBerry and the BlackBerry 10 operating system. The heart of the blackBerry business has always been the enterprise and the company’s hopes for revival hinge on its ability to win back customers who have been drifting to other platforms or bring-your-own-device options. But consider this from TechCrunch:

In short, BB10 isn’t built for the way business is done today. When RIM was in its ascendance there weren’t many options for an IT guy. You could install Exchange, sendmail, or Lotus and wait for a crash. BES was a godsend. Now that’s no longer true. 99.9% uptime is the rule, not the exception, and there are hundreds of cloud service providers that can turn a single founder into a mobile powerhouse from the comfort of her phone – her iOS phone.

The writer, the usually solid John Biggs, doesn’t realize that BlackBerry Enterprise Server was never an alternative to Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes. It ran (or runs) on top of one of those platforms. BES may have been a godsend, but not for that reason. And major commercial mail platforms such as Exchange or Lotus Domino Mail have provided three nines of uptime for a very long time. and to the extent that I can understand that last sentence, there have been cloud providers for a very long time too, including those that offer hosted BES services.

BlackBerry is making a serious play to regain the corporate market, BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, released last week, provides two new services: BlackBerry Balance, a software approach that partitions a BlackBerry 10 devices into separate  business and personal halves, and BlackBerry World for Work, a custom corporate app store. It also brings messaging and mobile device management support to Android and iOS devices, as well as BlackBerry 10s.

BlackBerry faces huge challenges and its success in the enterprise is far from assured. But if you want to analyze its chances, it helps to know how this stuff actually works.