BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is partnering with Microsoft in a move that could see Blackberry customers shift management of email and other services to the cloud.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Jim Tobin, senior vice president of RIM’s software and business services unit, said the company has been working closely with Microsoft in preparation for the launch of Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud initiative this October.

At the moment most companies purchase and manage one or more BlackBerry Enterprise servers on their premises. Under the cloud initiative, companies will have the option of moving this infrastructure to an off-site hosting facility, which would also provide management services and maintain features. 

Tobin said this would offer customers a number of benefits including “substantial” cost savings, increased efficiencies, and simpler management. He believes as much as 20 to 25 percent of RIM’s existing BlackBerry subscriber base will be using some type of cloud services by the end of the year.

“We’re embracing it in a big way and we’re going out jointly with Microsoft to all of our customers,” Tobin was quoted as saying in the Journal.

RIM has been losing market share to Apple’s iPhone’s and is facing increasing competition from a raft of new Google Android-powered devices. Embracing the cloud and offering new features to its base of corporate customers is seen as a key way for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company to fend off its rivals.




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