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BlackBerry’s (once) popular messaging service, BBM, is upping sticks from its existing on-premises data centers in Canada to a new home in the cloud in Asia.

As the former mobile phone giant inks licensing deals to keep its hardware brand alive using third-party manufacturers in Asia, the company has been making similar moves with its BBM software. Last June, BlackBerry quietly announced a strategic alliance with PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk, a subsidiary of one of Indonesia’s largest media groups, Emtek. The move saw BlackBerry open its APIs to “accelerate consumer BBM’s research and development in offering new and exciting features, services and content to the global consumer market,” according to a statement at the time.

In essence, BlackBerry decided to license BBM out to Emtek which would take charge of maintaining and developing the service.

BlackBerry has a strong track record in Indonesia, which the company has previously noted has been its biggest market for devices, as well as for BBM, which is why BlackBerry chose an Indonesian company for its first brand-licensing deal last September.


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BBM was once only compatible with BlackBerry devices, but with Android and iOS shooting to world domination, BBM went cross-platform. It’s also no longer just a simple messaging app, with ecommerce features, payments, games, videos, and more permeating the BBM ecosystem. And this is one of the reasons why BBM is migrating to the cloud — it’s to “accommodate a significant increase in media consumption by its global users, and to improve performance across key markets,” according to statement issued today.

With the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram ruling the roost in the west, it clearly makes little sense for an Indonesian company to store data on local Canadian data centers when the vast swathe of users are on the other side of the world. So by migrating the databases to the Google Cloud Platform in Asia, this goes some way toward speeding up BBM, given that data will have less distance to travel between a user’s handset and the servers.

The announcement today was made by Pythian, an IT company that provides a number of services — including helping organizations migrate from on-premise data centers to the cloud. Pythian was selected for the mission by Creative Media Works, a division of PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi Tbk that now operates BBM globally.

“We need a partner who shares our urgency, and can accommodate our needs as our business evolves in both North America and Asia,” said Matthew Talbot, CEO of Creative Media Works. “Pythian’s remote work model allows us to scale up as required on short notice and even around the clock, providing the flexibility that we need.”

The migration to the cloud affects BBM on the consumer Android, iOS, and Windows apps, though it appears that BlackBerry is keeping hold of the reins in the enterprise realm — earlier this month, BlackBerry revealed that enterprise developers would now be able to embed BBM within Android and iOS apps via a new SDK. Enterprise software remains a core part of BlackBerry’s business, so allowing developers to embed secure BBM-powered messaging within iOS and Android apps is just one way it hopes to keep businesses on-side.

BlackBerry has all but given up the consumer market, aside from its licensing arrangements, and the company’s recent Q4 earnings showed promise when it reported better-than-expected numbers, with costs nearly halved, revenues up 12 percent, and profitability expected some time in 2018.

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