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BlackBerry CEO Describes IoT, XDR and EDR Security Plans


BlackBerry continues to expand beyond traditional endpoint security opportunities. Indeed, CEO John Chen is driving BlackBerry deeper into the automobile software and IoT (Internet of Things) security markets. And ultimately, Chen expects the worlds of enterprise security and embedded security to converge.

No doubt, BlackBerry continues to promote endpoint security software to MSPs and MSSPs. But Chen described additional business opportunities during BlackBerry's quarterly earnings call with financial analysts on March 30, 2021.

During the call, Chen said:

"Our ongoing strategy is to safeguard the Internet of Things with intelligent security. We achieved this by combining our 30 years plus of expertise, security expertise with newly acquired technologies such as AI and machine learning."

BlackBerry addresses the IoT security opportunity in two ways, Chen added:

  • The first is to provide cybersecurity for enterprises -- particularly large, highly regulated verticals such as government, financial services and healthcare. In those verticals, BlackBerry protect endpoints, networks and communications with a Zero Trust Architecture.
  • The second is to embed technology to provide safety and security to the endpoint. Here, BlackBerry's focus is currently largely on automotive. Take a closer look and you'll find BlackBerry's QNX software installed in over 175 million cars on the road today. Plus a BlackBerry IVY with Amazon Web Services (AWS) provides "significant growth opportunities" going forward.

"Over time, those two paths will intersect and provide tremendous opportunity for BlackBerry. Investment in smart mobility and smart city infrastructure will help drive this convergence, but obviously the market is too early," Chen conceded.

Still, there have been key milestones in recent months. For instance, Chen mentioned on the call:

  1. Blackberry QNX, a real-time operating system, now has design wins with 23 of the world's top 25 electric vehicle OEMs and remains on course to return to a "normal revenue run rate" by mid-fiscal 2022, Chen said.
  2. Blackberry IVY, a scalable, cloud-connected software platform that will allow "automakers to create personalized driver and passenger experiences and improve operations of connected vehicles with new BlackBerry QNX and AWS technology." As part of the IVY push, Blackberry has had "positive engagement from a number of leading automakers," Chen said. An associated BlackBerry IVY Innovation Fund has also launched to drive startup innovations for the platform.
  3. Integrations and Verticals: Back in the more traditional cybersecurity market, BlackBerry recently integrated its Protect and Optics technology with IBM QRadar. Also, 18 government organizations now leverage BlackBerry SecuSUITE for Government.

BlackBerry Spark Suites: Gaining Momentum?

Also of note: BlackBerry introduced Spark Suites in 2020, and those suites will take center stage in 2021. The BlackBerry Spark software platform integrates a unified endpoint security (UES) layer with BlackBerry unified endpoint management (UEM) to "enable secure endpoint communications in a zero trust environment," the company says.

The BlackBerry Spark solutions are available through the BlackBerry Spark Unified Endpoint Security Suite and the BlackBerry Spark Unified Endpoint Management Suite, which are also marketed together as the BlackBerry Spark Suites, the company says.

The company is currently executing on a "robust schedule of product launches for BlackBerry Spark to deliver a comprehensive security approach operating on a single agent across all endpoints, administered from a single console, leveraging a single crowd-sourced threat data repository and managed in one cloud environment," BlackBerry said in an SEC filing.

The Spark Suite sales pipeline "grew strongly sequentially," Chen said. "The typical sale cycles are only nine months. So we're expecting a good second half of the fiscal 2022. We continue to assess and upgrading our UEM install base to Spark, adding Unify Endpoint Security or UES. This year, we will start focusing on new logos for the cyber suite. Across Spark, we start to see strength in both renewal and upsell in all key verticals."

Key wins in Q4 included the IRS, the United States Department of Commerce, the Continental Development Bank, the Scottish Government, as well as the Scottish police, the London Metro Police Services, and the US Marine Corp as well as Bell Canada, Chen mentioned on the call.

BlackBerry: Cybersecurity Growth Expected in Fiscal 2022

Looking ahead, BlackBerry will strengthen its XDR (eXtended Detection and Response) strategy by launching a cloud-based EDR (endpoint detection and response) product called Optics 3.0 sometime this quarter, Chen indicated. Also, a BlackBerry gateway product "will be the first to offer the ZeroTrust Network Access to both SaaS environments as well as on-premises applications," Chen indicated.

Those are welcome developments But BlackBerry faces pressure from such endpoint security companies as CrowdStrike (which is growing rapidly in the enterprise) and SentinelOne (which has caught on with MSPs and MSSPs).

Still, Chen sounds upbeat about BlackBerry's security prospects. He anticipates "double digit billings growth" for both cybersecurity and BlackBerry Technology Solutions for the fiscal year 2022 -- which is under way now.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.