The Australian Taxation Office is bucking the enterprise trend away from BlackBerry, building on its relationship with the Canadian smartphone maker in a software trial.
The pilot will include email, contact and calendar applications for 400 ATO managers to use on iPads, notebooks and smartphones.
Known for its handsets, which have taken a back seat in recent years to Apple's iPhone and Google Android devices, BlackBerry is rallying with a push into compliance and security software to manage burgeoning fleets of corporate and bring-your-own mobile devices.
The ATO does not expect to issue BlackBerry's latest Q10 handsets to staff in the trial. ATO chief information officer Bill Gibson says the agency has struck a balance between security and usability by being selective about the content it permits. "We're looking at how extensible it is into file-sharing or how we would handle more sensitive information," he says.
"We're a bit of a follower so we looked at what other government agencies were doing and the level of hardening being done."
BlackBerry, like some other mobile device management systems, enables the use of "containers" on handsets. Mr Gibson says these "protected app enclaves" are very controllable and secure but only with severe constraints, including forcing users to work with different apps for common tasks.
The ATO considered Good Technology and AirWatch solutions but was swayed by its existing relationship with BlackBerry.
"We looked at an approach that was more flexible and used native clients on the devices and therefore obtain a better balance between usability and security," Mr Gibson says. "Lock these down and it becomes a little bit unusable, or relax it a bit and change the scope of what information you are prepared to expose and that makes it more flexible.
"We talk about 'usable while secure' - five years ago it would have been 'secure', and 'usable' would be an afterthought."
Full story: theage.com.au/it-pro