While BlackBerry has been on a downward spiral since the first touch devices started to hit the market, events over the past few weeks seem to have taken the company that first inspired our love of all things mobile from on-the-ropes to down-for-the-count.

blackberry-death-smallThe first crushing blow came from the news of the “king of tiny keyboards” opening up the doors for sale: a 4.7 billion dollar cry for salvation from lackluster BB Z10 sales that was exacerbated by market fervor for Apple’s new darlings, the iPhones 5S and 5C.

Next came Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney’s ominous advice, “Gartner recommends that our [BlackBerry enterprise] clients take no more than six months to consider and implement alternatives to BlackBerry. We’re emphasizing that all clients should immediately ensure they have backup mobile data management plans and are at least testing alternative devices to BlackBerry.”

Despite the popularity of iOS and Android devices, BlackBerry has been a dominant force in security-conscious industries like finance and government. With BlackBerry’s tenuous future, can these or any industry afford to sit on their hands and wait for BES support to just go dark? Quite simply, no, they can’t. The productivity boons that come from smartphones and tablets have become a matter of course for getting things done whether part of a corporate owned program (COPE) or as part of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. So what’s the alternative to keep the wheels of mobile productivity moving while ensuring the same lock-tight security that was offered by BlackBerry?

iOS 7 & Mobile Device Management – Soothing the CrackBerry DTs

While the physical keyboard has gone the way of the dinosaur, the other benefits offered by the BlackBerry experience—like native OS security and isolation of corporate data—have taken exponential leaps forward with iOS 7 and Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions.

The walled-garden of Apple apps and lack of fragmentation have made it the corporate go-to choice for mobility especially with the rise of BYOD, but BlackBerry was still a favorite for organizations that wanted that small extra level of security and control of corporate data.

Recently, Fiberlink held iOS 7 Webinars (Part 1 & Part 2) to introduce the enterprise-features available in the updated operating system. With these changes comes the extra assurance for IT, compliance, and legal that they will maintain the same levels of control and security they found in the days when BES reigned supreme.

A few business-ready features include: 

  • Open In Management: Control data leaks from corporate apps, documents and accounts with MDM right out of the box.
  • Per App VPN: Enable your managed apps to securely connect to corporate networks and information.
  • Volume Purchase Program (VPP): Save money by retaining full ownership and control over VPP licenses of apps and books when users no longer need them.
  • MDM enrollment Options: Includes a number of new commands, queries, and configuration options that make third-party MDM solutions even more powerful.
  • Enterprise Single Sign On (SSO): Enable authentication into corporate apps just once, making it easier for your users to be more efficient and productive.
  • Third-Party App Data Protection: Leverage encryption of app data automatically using the user’s passcode to create a strong and unique encryption key.

Further control can be found in the implementation of the right MDM solution—one that can support iOS and Android and handle your legacy BlackBerry devices until they are phased out. Some control features include:

  • Touch ID Control: Turn on/off fingerprint unlocking and report whether it is enabled on a device.
  • Silent App Install: Automatically install apps on supervised devices.
  • Report on Activation Lock: Know when Activation Lock in Find My iPhone is enabled (used as a theft deterrent) locking a device to the user’s Apple ID.
  • Personal Hot Spot Control: Turn on/off personal hot spot provided through a carrier and report whether it is enabled on a device.

The final piece of the security puzzle can be found in container solutions that provide a dual persona experience, like the MaaS360 Secure Productivity Suite. With these capabilities in place, all corporate emails, documents and apps with access to network resources are held within a “sandboxed” environment to control the movement of data and avoid leaks.

While BlackBerry devices may linger for a little while longer, business is run on planning. You need to know what tomorrow will bring so you can avoid any unnecessary downtime.