Research In Motion announced today a new product intended to bridge the gap between personal and business uses on BlackBerry smartphones. BlackBerry Balance is a service tied through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server that cordons work data from personal data for the always-connected worker.
BlackBerry Balance shows users a unified view of the applications and data on the smartphone allowing them to separate sensitive business information or personal uses like scheduling and activity management. As enterprise and consumers merge gadgets from a hodge podge of task specific devices to streamlining one device for many purposes, RIM keeps the IT administrators satisfied with security provisions while also allowing personal use.
Unlike Apple and especially Android, RIM is always thinking of how its devices can be more effectively used by businesses and employees. BlackBerry Bridge, the app that connects BlackBerry smartphones to the PlayBook tablet, is a good example of this. BlackBerry Balance in interesting because on the surface a user does not see how the phone is internally quartering information. Yet, if a user tries to perform an action that has been prohibited by a company IT department then Balance give the user a notification on the device.
"So, our task as a vendor has been to understand this whole, we call it dual-persona nature, that they devices have to have," said David Heit, director of product strategy at RIM in an interview in January. "So, looking forward that these devices and their solutions there is a personal element to them where the individual decides their own level of security."
Data leaks through social media is often a concern that IT departments have, especially when sensitive client information is stored next to a social media app. Balance will prevent business information to be copied into or used by Facebook, Twitter, Windows Lives, Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo accounts. Data created by business applications cannot be used by personal applications.
"In our designs for Playbook and even for all the Blackberry smartphones we are recognizing that dual-persona nature that you have to accommodate and that these devices will become capable of handling the combined scenario where it is used for both," Heit said.
Since Balance is tied through a BES 5.03 server, IT administrators get the level of control that makes them feel comfortable. If an employee leaves the organization with smartphone in tow, IT can remotely wipe the business information on the phone while keeping personal information intact. In the case of a lost of stolen phone, all data can be wiped remotely.