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BlackBerry kicked off 2020 by officially releasing its new workspace product, Digital Workplace. The solution brings together capabilities from BlackBerry's unified endpoint management (UEM) tool, the browser-based workspace capabilities offered by Awingu (a BlackBerry partner), with some of the advanced security features BlackBerry gained through its acquisition of Cylance. The new solution has been developed to help enterprises securely manage the needs of a workforce comprising a range of workers that need access to important work resources wherever and whenever they work, and regardless of what device they are using.

Managing the device and application needs of different types of worker can be a challenge

Workplaces increasingly need to accommodate people that undertake a variety of roles, all with some level of access to work systems and data. These people range from full-time employees who need access to a wide variety of corporate resources, to contractors or partners that only need access to a single system or small data repository. The dilemma for enterprises is in how to provide and manage the access needs for a variety of roles in a fashion that is both controlled, and secure. This challenge is compounded by workstyle preferences whereby people wish to access these resources across a range of different device-types, some of which may not be formally managed or secured by the business. There are many ways that a business can secure access to work-based resources, for example through mobility management solutions that secure endpoints and VPN access. However, these methods are not always ideal for all of the worker profiles that a modern business needs to support.

The rise of the digital workspace: access work resources anywhere, anytime, and on any device

The BlackBerry Digital Workplace solution enables secure access to work apps, business data and files, and corporate intranet resources across any device, regardless of whether it is managed or unmanaged. Providing access to such resources without the need to bring an endpoint under any formal management is an important use-case for workers that are not direct employees. Contractors, consultants, and partners that a business may be working with may all require some access to corporate resources. From a user perspective, they just need to start the app, log in (single sign-on is supported), and they will have access to work email, calendars, and other business apps or data. The whole experience is secured by leveraging capabilities from the Cylance security portfolio BlackBerry acquired in 2019. The security features are based on BlackBerry's zero-trust model which, essentially, is access based not only on one-time authorization when initiating any session, but continually throughout a session based on elements such as device and network posture. With this technology, security challenges can even be issued should user behavior in a session be deemed too risky. From a user experience perspective, this type of solution is positive as no device preparation or imaging is required, nor does a VPN need to be installed. Employees, especially those that work remotely, are no longer hindered by events such as device failures or issues with connecting to a VPN client. All the user needs in order to start working is an internet connection.

What does this mean for enterprises and service providers looking to deliver digital workspace solutions?

Whilst these capabilities have been previously available in a more disparate fashion, the integration of these features by BlackBerry under its new solution is positive, especially from an employee-experience perspective, as access to enterprise systems and data is made easier and more seamless. The move is also good for service providers delivering digital workspace solutions as it brings together an advanced set of security and endpoint management capabilities under one solution – something that can help service providers to rationalize their digital workspace solution portfolios. It must be noted that BlackBerry Digital Workplace is not the only solution of its kind available; tech vendors including VMware and Microsoft offer solutions that also support this use-case.