Last fall, when BlackBerry acquired Good Technology, they announced an ambitious plan to integrate their enterprise mobility management products and infrastructure.
It’s been a little over 9 months since the deal closed. The more outwardly visible changes include BlackBerry’s marketing for Good, the introduction of several new suites comprising various combinations of BlackBerry and Good products, and Good.com re-directing to BlackBerry.com.
I wanted to get an update on the technical side of the integration, so recently I talked to John Herrema. John lead the products at Good for years, and now he’s leading the combined EMM products at BlackBerry.
The Good-BlackBerry integration process
Looking back a bit before the acquisition, remember that both companies had recently hit some major technical milestones: Good released their next-generation email client, and continued to grow the Good Dynamics ecosystem and capabilities. BlackBerry released BES 12, and continued to broaden their MDM position with support for Samsung Knox and Android for Work.
Post-acquisition, the integration was planned in four stages:
- Phase 1, which was completed around January-February of this year, was all about unifying the end user experience. For example, a user enrolled in BES 12 for MDM can seamlessly enroll in Good Dynamics for MAM without any addition enrollment or activation steps.
- Phase 2, which was completed in June with the release of BES 12.5, unified the administration experience. All day-to-day tasks for Good Dynamics can now be done through the BES console. Phase 2 also unified Active Directory integration.
- Phase 3 is targeted for November or December, and will physically unify the BES and Good server components into what John described as a “unified unit of scale.” All of the bits for Good Dynamics will be delivered as a part of BES 12; they’ll lie latent until customers decide to turn them on. Everything is designed to make the server cutover as easy as possible—there’s no need to redeploy apps or re-enroll devices as customers go from Good to BES.
- Phase 4 will unify the BlackBerry and Good NOC infrastructures. Again, they’re planning on making this as easy as possible. Customers don’t have to disrupt their users to do a cutover, rather it just means that there will be more configuration options for NOC paths.
John praised the BES 12 architecture for making the integration easier, and for giving customers flexible management options. BES 12 is designed around users, groups, policies, and priorities. Different components—such as MAM, MDM for new types of devices, or other services like BlackBerry’s WatchDox—can all plug into it.
As a result, customers can support all combinations of MAM, MDM, and other policies. For example, a Good Dynamics app can be deployed into a Samsung Knox container. Also, they’re updating the Good Dynamics SDK to be more aware of device policies, so for example, if a device already has a password enforced, the Good Dynamics container doesn’t have to have another one.
For customers, having a broad and flexible array of EMM options makes it easier to pick the best management technique for any given use case, so this is great news. John also said that having the more advanced MDM capabilities from BES has allowed some customers to stop using other third-party MDM products.
Good on Windows and Mac
Last fall I wrote that Good was building a containerized email client and browser for Windows and macOS. These products are both out now. I’ve always loved this concept for BYOC, remote/home access, or as an alternative to desktop virtualization, so I’m very interested to see where it goes. John said they already had some good internal use cases for it during the acquisition process.
The business perspective
The next question is how things are going from a business perspective.
It’s an unfortunate truth that the slow grind of BlackBerry’s handset business can dampen the mood when we’re talking about their other products, but recently they started reporting profit and loss on the different lines of businesses separately, so that could help.
Their software and services business (which besides EMM includes secure messaging, QNX, and a few other things) is continuing to grow. On recent earnings calls, they said the new EMM suites had 90 customer wins in the first 60 days they were available (in January and February), and then 526 more sales in the following quarter (in March, April, and May).
Overall, it’s impressive to see how BlackBerry and Good got right down to work on the integration.