Bounty of BlackBerry Server Updates, Apps Debut
Research In Motion just issued a slew of updates for BlackBerry Enterprise Server services that provide enhanced dashboard, administrative permissions and monitoring features along with support for Internet Explorer 8 and other applications. The update, BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) SP1, now allows mobile managers to use Windows Internet Explorer version 8 to access the BlackBerry Administration Service, BlackBerry Monitoring Service console and the BlackBerry MDS Application Console. Also new in the upgrade is support for Microsoft SQL Server 2008, IBM Lotus Domino 8.5.1 and Lotus Notes ID Vault. Additionally, mobile IT staff can now import Wi-Fi profiles and virtual private network profiles from other files. Another tweak in the server pack allows mobile managers to configure the BlackBerry MDS Connection Service to use directory service markup language (DSML) to search for and retrieve certificates from DSML servers.
The BlackBerry Monitoring Service home page also got a facelift, to allow for the display of performance data and user statistics, graphs, server mappings and component overview information for BES actions. The database component page in the BlackBerry Monitoring Service now shows data attributes for the device configuration database, including index fragmentation and the file sizes of transaction and data logs. On the administrative front, RIM added several enhancements that allow for easier access, navigation and oversight. For instance, IT staff can now see the list of BlackBerry user accounts as hyperlinks for faster viewing of properties for each smartphone user account. Also making life easier for those supervising BlackBerrys in the workplace are improvements to the user creation process within the administration service. For instance, when creating a user account, staff can assign the account to groups, software configurations and a specific enterprise server. Multiple user accounts can now also be assigned to a single BlackBerry server and to groups by importing account information from a CSV file. There are also enhanced administrative permissions in the service pack allowing IT staff to more effectively set controls for which employees are authorized to activate BlackBerrys and send messages to BlackBerry user accounts. The news of the updates comes on the heels of several other releases from RIM, Google and mobile communications company Nimbuzz. Most recently, Nimbuzz introduced a new version of its mobile social messaging application for for BlackBerrys. The updated version is the first native BlackBerry app that allows users to conduct multi-network chat sessions. The Nimbuzz app alerts users when someone contacts them by pushing a notification to the homescreen. It supports IM through Skype and provides online chat for Facebook and other social networks. RIM also just issued BlackBerry Sync 3.0, which allows users to transfer photos between their devices and computers, among other multimedia functions. Meanwhile, Google recently updated Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry, doubling the number of supported users to 500 per server and allowing a single BES to support multiple Google App domains. At last month's development conference, RIM rolled out several upgrades to its platform to court coders, including support for Adobe Creative Suite 5, in-application commerce and WebKit. RIM has been steadily rolling out updates to its BlackBerry OS and enterprise services against the backdrop of major developments in the mobile sector. The mobile operating system Android is generating a lot of buzz lately with signature handset releases running the open source mobile OS, such as the Droid, HTC Hero and Motorola Cliq. At the same time, Palm continues to nurture its own platform, webOS, with the Pre and Pixi, and Apple's iPhone juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down. Though some industry insiders have been speculating that RIM's marketshare may slip if it becomes complacent, given the unprecedented competition in the lucrative mobile sector, the BlackBerry maker continues to dominate the enterprise and sell more devices than Apple.