RIM’s BlackBerry Management Center is Free BES-Lite

BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server has long been a mainstay of the corporate world, but considering the costs involved, many small businesses haven’t been able to justify the cost. Enter the BlackBerry Management Center, a cloud service meant for exactly those small businesses who want some of the power of BES without the corresponding price tag.

Released today, BMC is meant for small businesses with between 3 and 100 BlackBerry-toting employees itching for a good (and free!) way to manage all those devices. It only supports email service hosted by ISPs and the usual complement of webmail services (think Gmail, Yahoo!, and the like) out of the gate, so those firms that shelled out the dough for an Exchange server need not apply.

BlackBerry’s “BES-lite” management service gives beleaguered IT staff a full set of BlackBerry superpowers, from the mundane (reset a password, restoring settings and data to different devices) to the mission-critical (remotely locking/wiping devices, scheduling wireless backups). All this can be handled by way of a simple interface that RIM assures us “requires little or no technical skills to use,” which would lower the bar for effective device management and presumably make a small business’s single IT guy less likely to yank their hair out.

As a free service, BlackBerry Management Center is likely to pick up a lot of traction among the small businesses RIM is targeting. It’s a win-win, with SMBs getting a a full-featured new tool to add to the IT arsenal, and RIM getting in on the ground floor with businesses that may well grow to the size that they’re used to accommodating.