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RIM: Next server will work with all BlackBerry devices

RIM says its BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 will be able to support existing devices, the PlayBook, and BlackBerry 10 phones. But there's a catch.

RIM's headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario.
Research in Motion

Research In Motion said today that the next iteration of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server will be able to handle both past and future BlackBerrys, assuaging concerns about compatibility issues and the need for companies to run multiple servers -- sort of.

RIM said it would launch BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 at the same time as the launch of the first BlackBerry 10 phone early next year. Existing BES customers will get an upgrade to BES 10 to ensure they'll be able to handle both new and legacy devices.

The comments answer a concern that RIM would move on to a new server that wouldn't be able to handle older BlackBerry devices because of the compatibility issue between BlackBerry 10 and the original BlackBerry operating system. The main fear was that companies would need to run two servers to accommodate a mix of older and newer BlackBerrys -- a potential hassle and complication for corporate CIOs.

A report from BGR yesterday brought up the issue, although the incompatibility issue was reported on by CIO in February. RIM has also warned in its last two quarterly conference calls that there would be differences in the infrastructure running current BlackBerrys and BlackBerry 10.

BGR later confirmed from RIM that companies would indeed have to run BES 10 on a separate server, or in a virtual machine, which could lead to higher costs and complications for IT managers.

A RIM representative told CNET that BES 10 and its Mobile Fusion service work in a multi-server environment. He declined to comment on potential pricing.

BES 10, alongside the older BES 5 server, will be able to handle older BlackBerrys, BlackBerry 10 phones, and the PlayBook tablet.

Getting back into the good graces of the corporate world is just as important to RIM as making an impression with consumers. While many individuals have started using their personal phones for work, many companies still outfit their employees with corporate-purchased phones. For years, that essentially meant a BlackBerry.

RIM still has a long road to travel before its devices hit the market -- giving time for its rivals to extend their lead. But the company recently showed off the phones, and the devices looked competitive with existing smartphones in the market.

Updated at 2:49 p.m. PT: to include an updated response from RIM and a new report from BGR.