WES: A Sneak Peek into the Future of BlackBerry Solutions
The biggest BlackBerry® conference of the year brought together thousands of developers, IT professionals and business decisionmakers. And after three days of nonstop BlackBerry-related activities at WES 2009, we left amazed at what’s to come this year. Attendees took part in breakout sessions, got hands-on time in the Lab, and networked with colleagues. In addition, people got first looks at a number of solutions that just might change the way you use your BlackBerry smartphone. Here are some of the highlights:
WES Kicks Off with Some Big News
Research In Motion (RIM) president and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis kicked things off with an overview of what to expect from RIM through the remainder of this year, with a particular emphasis on BlackBerry® Enterprise Server v5.0 (which you can read more about here). On Wednesday, Co-CEO Jim Balsillie announced the winners of this year’s Wireless Leadership Awards (find out who took home the hardware here).
Both IBM® and HP® made major announcements at the General Sessions. Robert Picciano, general manager, Lotus and Websphere Portal Software, informed the crowd about the mobilization of IBM® Lotus® collaboration software. To get more details on how the entire Lotus suite of applications is coming to your smartphone, click here.
HP Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy and Technology Officer Shane Robison announced the release of Operations Manager for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which will allow an IT department to monitor all aspects of a BlackBerry deployment (including mail servers, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and databases) from a single console. The upcoming release of CloudPrint, though, was the announcement that really wowed the crowd. CloudPrint lets you wirelessly print from any app on your BlackBerry smartphone to any printer. And although HP designed the solution, CloudPrint is not tied to any single brand of printer. We saw a demo in the Solutions Center and can tell you that we can’t wait to be able to print from our smartphones without having to worry about cables or drivers. Stay tuned for more information about all these announcements in upcoming issues of BlackBerry Connection® newsletter.
With more than 100 sessions to choose from, it’s safe to say that if you wanted to learn about some aspect of the BlackBerry solution, it was covered at WES 2009. Of course, one topic seemed to be of particular interest to attendees this year: BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0. The well-attended BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 sessions covered the gamut from high availability, to performance metrics, to optimization, and much more. In particular, the crowd was interested in seeing the ease of installing a standby instance on the new BlackBerry Enterprise Server—the three-step demo took less than a minute. Sessions on the new BlackBerry Administration Service also drew interest. This new feature provides a single cohesive browser-based management interface for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Other popular sessions focused on the use of the BlackBerry solution in certain verticals, including finance, health care, public safety, and government. Other favorites were:
Return on Investment
“Mobile ROI: Trends, Facts, Fiction” drew a large crowd. At this session, Michele Pelino of Forrester Research broke down how mobile devices such as BlackBerry smartphones are being used in the workplace. She explained that companies understand the costs of mobilization but often don’t think broadly about where benefits can be achieved.
Google® provided an early look at Google Apps Connector for BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which will be available for Google Apps Premier Edition and Education edition users in July. Apps Connector integrates the Google Apps messaging suite with your BlackBerry Enterprise Server. Once the software is installed, your BlackBerry Enterprise Server thinks it’s talking to Exchange but instead connects with Google. Highlights include:
* Calendar and contacts sync
* Global address lists
* Emails read/deleted on your BlackBerry smartphone are marked as
read/deleted in Gmail
* Offline access to messages
At launch, Google Calendar will sync one way (from Google Calendar to your BlackBerry smartphone); two- way synchronization is being addressed, but a launch date for this feature is yet to be determined. At the presentation, Google touted the cost efficiencies of Google Apps over legacy solutions. To learn more about these benefits, check the next issue of BlackBerry Connection newsletter.
The Solutions Center
Between sessions, WES attendees packed the Solutions Center, where they checked out the latest apps and hardware from RIM and its partners. In addition to seeing what was available on BlackBerry App World™, people got one- on-one time with dozens of BlackBerry hardware and software partners and had the chance to learn about how to make their BlackBerry smartphones work for their businesses. This was also the first time WES included a BlackBerry store, and during breaks in the action, attendees took some time to browse the latest handsets and peripherals available from RIM.
The Hands-on Lab
Nothing beats getting to see something for yourself, and the Hands-on Lab at WES provided a wealth of opportunities to test BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0. Because of the interest in this release, the Lab had extended hours this year, and individuals took advantage of this by meeting with RIM reps and taking BlackBerry Enterprise Server v5.0 for a spin. At the Lab, attendees learned about security, monitoring, high availability and other critical issues. concerning the BlackBerry solution. Additionally, the Lab provided opportunities for training and certification.
Perhaps it’s best to let attendees explain the benefit of attending WES: Gerald Lagasca, a system admin from Sandia National Labs explains that “WES is a chance to see the latest tech and learn from the sessions… It’s also a great way to reinforce what we’ve learned from previous summits we’ve attended.” Uday Keshavdas, a consumer marketing manager with Intel, who was attending his first WES said, “WES has allowed me to learn more about the BlackBerry ecosystem and see what is being done in the consumer market.”
Another great reason to attend? When you get thousands of BlackBerry fans together, you can bet you’ll have plenty of opportunities to talk shop. Whether at lunch, in the halls between sessions, or at the party—featuring will.i.am—people got together to talk about how they use the BlackBerry solution. Overheard through out the week were people talking about BlackBerry—apps they had discovered in the solution center, seminars they had attended, and information they would take back with them.
It's never too early to start planning for next year — Book Your Calendar for WES 2010, April 27-29.