Microsoft and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) are teaming up today on the public release of BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365, a name which surely Microsoft itself had a hand in creating. The new service will allow corporate customers to manage their deployed BlackBerry devices using Exchange Online, the hosted version of Microsoft’s messaging platform.
The addition comes at no extra cost to current subscribers of the Office 365 suite or the standalone Exchange Online offering, and supports any BlackBerry devices, whether on a business or consumer data plan.
Once enabled, the managed BlackBerry smartphones will be able to sync with Microsoft Exchange Online email, calendar and organizer data. BlackBerry Balance, a new technology that helps admins manage the corporate data on the device, while leaving personal data untouched, will also be available with this new offering. I.T. will be able to manage the phones using a web-based console, but employees will have access to self-service tools for password and device resets, remote lock and remote wipe functions.
BlackBerry Business Cloud Services is live now in 50 countries. More info is here.
Partnerships like this are one of the reasons why some mobile industry insiders believe that RIM could be a viable acquisition target for Microsoft. The companies are already working so closely together to integrate their technologies, and both share a similar end user customer base: the enterprise market. Reports that RIM has even engaged in takeover talks with Microsoft emerged in December, but nothing has yet to come of that. Instead, the company’s recent moves like the co-CEO step-down and (misguided) statements from new CEO Thorsten Heins (“I don’t think any drastic change is needed”) imply that company is attempting a turnaround, not putting itself on the auction block. At least for now.