Published: March 20th, 2018

BlackBerry Ltd., is no stranger to strategic partnerships, and its latest hopes to secure enterprises using mobile Microsoft applications.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company has teamed up with Microsoft to launch BlackBerry Enterprise Bridge, a first-of-its-kind solution that seamlessly secures native Microsoft mobile apps. With Bridge, Microsoft products within Office 365 will be available for users “anytime, anyplace” through BlackBerry’s secure container platform, BlackBerry Dynamics.

“In our hyperconnected and hypermobile world, security is needed more than ever, but people will go around it if it’s cumbersome or adds more steps to a routine activity,” Mark Wilson, chief marketing officer at BlackBerry, tells CDN at a press roundtable on Mar. 19. “You can solve that by making security easier for users, and that’s exactly what Bridge does. It provides the best encrypted security for native Microsoft apps with a great user experience that isn’t a hassle.”

Users won’t notice any change in how they launch or use the apps, he adds, only IT managers will know what’s happening “behind the curtain.”

The Bridge solution lives up to its name – it sits in the middle and bridges the gap between Microsoft’s apps and BlackBerry Dynamics so that they work together while still maintaining their separate identities.

“Customers have been asking to have Microsoft apps inside BlackBerry’s container platform for a long time – in fact, a few global financial organizations wrote a letter to [BlackBerry CEO] John Chen almost two years ago asking for this integration, so John met up with [Microsoft CEO] Satya Nadella to discuss, and that’s how Bridge was created,” explains Carl Wiese, president of global sales at BlackBerry.

Bridge is available for both Android and iOS mobile devices, and is completely integrated with Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

“In an era when digital technology is driving rapid transformation, customers are looking for a trusted partner,” Judson Athoff, executive vice president of worldwide commercial business at Microsoft, says in the joint company press release. “Our customers choose Microsoft 365 for productivity and collaboration tools that deliver continuous innovation, and do so securely. Together with BlackBerry, we will take this to the next level and provide enterprises with a new standard for secure productivity.”

BlackBerry relying on partners for Bridge

The Bridge solution will be available in April/May through BlackBerry’s partner network. It will be sold in the channel via a subscription license per user per year in two ways: either part of BlackBerry’s security suite bundle, or on its own. Pricing has yet to be announced but Wiese emphasizes that it will be “soon”.

Richard McLeod, global vice president of enterprise software channels at BlackBerry, says that its network of over 750 partners has already been trained and briefed on the new solution and will be able to answer any customer questions about how Bridge works before its general availability. Additionally, more than 50 partners have deployed the Bridge software internally under beta to get comfortable with it and give BlackBerry any feedback they may have.

“Initial reactions are great because it’s really an opportunity for more service dollars. Our partners find the Bridge solution exciting and they’re happy to sell more business products so they can become more enterprise-relevant,” McLeod says.

He points out that Bridge also helps BlackBerry partners develop a “stickiness” with their customers because the more products or services they provide, the more ingrained their relationship becomes with their customers.

It’s also convincing a lot of Microsoft-centric partners to come join BlackBerry’s network, too, McLeod continues.

“Microsoft partners who have been concerned about some of its security issues are now embracing the BlackBerry value proposition and signing up as BlackBerry partners. As a whole, the new Bridge product will help partners move up the curve or foodchain, if you will, and accelerate their business,” he concludes.