Progress, what progress? BlackBerry Continuity still ignored by IT Departments

All of this, of course, played nicely to our own announcement, which was all about a 100% availability SLA if the Exchange server, or indeed the BES Server, or indeed the RIM NOC, went down.

At last year’s InfoSecurity Europe event, Mimecast conducted some impromptu research amongst delegates around the subject of BlackBerry continuity.  Specifically, we wanted to see if IT departments were extending the ‘email availability SLA’ to their smartphone users.  As you’ll know, much research is self-serving and this was no exception.  We were announcing our own cloud-based BlackBerry continuity service at the show, and were fairly certain we’d find that the percentage of companies ensuring BlackBerry email uptime was low.  It was.  Our survey showed that while 48 percent of IT Managers reported BlackBerry downtime at least once a quarter, only 44 percent had any kind of BES continuity in place.

Yesterday was the first day of this year’s InfoSec and I’m not sure about you but I always get a sense of déjà vu at these events.  The same old players, with a facelift here and there, and many of the same people – it’s a small world.  I also saw lots of people with BlackBerries, which made me wonder if this issue of email continuity is being taken any more seriously now than it was a year ago?

And the answer is no.  Our latest intelligence on the subject comes from a white paper based on research from Incisive Media, entitled Keeping the Enterprise Agile and Mobile. This paper reveals that 41 percent of organisations have no provisions in place to ensure high availability of the service. Furthermore, 59 percent of those IT departments questioned admitted that they did not have an effective BlackBerry continuity solution in place and 61 percent had no internal Service Level Agreement (SLA) for BlackBerry email availability.

It’s not that IT Managers don’t realise there’s a problem.  BlackBerry users are a demanding  bunch – 66 percent consider an hour of downtime a month unacceptable - and, what’s more, their opinions count.  58 percent of instances of downtime resulted in board level complaints.

So if it’s such a headache, why has their not been more progress?  One answer is simply that IT folk are overwhelmingly focused on the Exchange server, and overlook the need to offer the same productivity tools and safeguards to smartphone users that they provision to desktop PCs.  If this is true, it’s clearly misguided, as so much email nowadays is sent from devices like the BlackBerry.

But looking back at least year’s InfoSec research, arguably the most startling statistic is that 75 percent of respondents had ANY kind of email continuity in place.  And that is a remarkably low number, given how crucial email is to information workers.  We can only conclude that the problem, whilst it seems to create proportionally more pain amongst smartphone users, is really that email continuity as an application is not getting the IT mindshare it deserves.