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Aimed at business and Government users, the extension of Microsoft’s flagship Software as a Service (SaaS) suite – including Exchange, Office and SharePoint – will be free for customers already subscribing to the mid-sized or enterprise level packages of Office 365. It will also come at no cost to organisations already signed up to Exchange Online.
“This new cloud-based option allows customers to cost-effectively support mobility across their organisations and easily manage and secure their BlackBerry deployments,” said Alan Panezic, vice president of enterprise product management and marketing at RIM.
Getting Office 365 on BlackBerry smartphones extends the dominance of the handset manufacturer in corporate environments, but the additional facilities RIM will be offering as its ‘Business Cloud Services’ may clinch the deal with any doubters.
As well as the wireless synchronisation of Microsoft Exchange’s email and calendar, the inclusion of BlackBerry Balance enables the phone to keep personal and business information separate from one another for security purposes, whilst allowing a user to view them simultaneously.
There are also new management tools from administrators, utilising the cloud to allow them to provision, manage and secure devices from wherever they are. Users are also able to access a number of security functions to reset passwords or remotely wipe a device if it is lost or stolen.
Finally, managed service providers will also be able to gain access to these tools if they wish to sell them on ‘as a service’ for BlackBerry deployments.
Julia White, senior director of Microsoft's Exchange product management group, added: “The availability of BlackBerry Business Cloud Services is great news for Office 365 and BlackBerry customers who want to get the maximum benefit from these two business collaboration services.”
Both BlackBerry Business Cloud Services and Microsoft Office 365 for BlackBerry are available from today.