BlackBerry-maker RIM Ties Up with Microsoft for Cloud Storage

BlackBerry-maker RIM Ties Up with Microsoft for Cloud Storage

Last week saw the announcement of two major joint ventures in the cloud computing space. While German enterprise software maker SAP AG tied up with Verizon to offer its CRM solutions on the cloud, BlackBerry-manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) announced it was teaming up with Microsoft for cloud-based storage.

The new service, termed BlackBerry Office 365, will fully integrate with Microsoft’s forthcoming Office 365 offering, with users of one having full and free access to the other. Features will include calendar, contacts, video services, etc., all accessible from BlackBerry devices.

We’re embracing it in a big way, and we’re going out jointly with Microsoft to all of our customers,” said Jim Tobin, senior vice president of RIM’s software and business services unit. He opined that around 25% of RIM’s large corporate customers will possibly shift data to the cloud by the end of this year and as many as 50% by next year. “It’s a more efficient model for everyone,” he said, adding that this collaboration will make the transition smoother.

While RIM had no plans at the moment to offer enterprise services to devices outside the BlackBerry family, Tobin didn’t completely dismiss the possibility of anything like that materializing in the future. “We have the physical capacity to handle cloud services,” he emphasized.

On a blog post, Microsoft described the agreement as being “a good deal for customers” and one that promises to deliver the “best productivity experience across the PC, phone and browser.” Showing the long-term nature of the tie-up, Microsoft also promised to “continue to provide hosted BlackBerry service” in future.

The importance of cloud computing to RIM’s future was underscored during a presentation that Alec Taylor, vice president, software, services and enterprise marketing for RIM gave on Thursday, where he described cloud applications as being “core to RIM’s strategy.” Taylor also claimed that RIM is “positioned to lead in mobile cloud services.”

This announcement comes a few days before RIM releases its tablet Playbook to take on Apple’s iPad, which released its second version a fortnight ago. With the latter gaining a strong foothold in the enterprise sector, RIM’s longstanding dominance is under threat. This tie-up may well be an action to regain its primary position in the corporate sector, especially after announced that the iPad has seen wide acceptance among the Fortune 500.

By Sourya Biswas

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