BlackBerry banks on security heritage to drive 'Project Ion' Internet of Things platform

BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) is launching a series of projects under the heading of "Project Ion" and aims to use its expertise in data security to get enterprises to uses its platform to connect devices as part of the Internet of Things.

Project Ion relies on a cloud back-end infrastructure and BlackBerry's QNX software to let devices send information to the cloud. QNX software already runs a large chunk of in-car infotainment systems and now BlackBerry is extending that to all manner of connected machines and sensors.

The platform uses BlackBerry's secure enterprise mobility management tools and the company said it aims to "securely manage data from millions" of devices. The company also hopes to serve as a broker between developers, carriers and device makers. BlackBerry said it joined the Industrial Internet Consortium, which was launched in late March by AT&T (NYSE: T) Cisco Systems, General Electric, IBM and Intel with the goal of creating IoT standards. BlackBerry is also working with the Application Developers Alliance on the project.

Alec Saunders, vice president of QNX's could efforts, told GigaOM that the company has "stolen liberally from open source software in computing and networking that has been going on in the last couple of years. Many of them didn't exist in the form we are using them in, 18 months ago."

BlackBerry is using the database software Cassandra to handle all of the data that will come in from connected devices and aims to standardize the data sources into one format, according to GigaOM. The cloud portion of Project Ion also relies on software from Kafka, Solr and Vert.x.

Saunders announced the project at the O'Reilly Solid Conference and BlackBerry is hoping to get developers to take part in a public beta starting this fall, with the goal of having a formal product launching before the end of February 2015.

BlackBerry thinks its expertise with data security and hardware will give it a leg up over other companies such as Xively and Ayla Networks that are trying to provide cloud infrastructure for connected devices. BlackBerry indicated that healthcare and telematics are two areas where its approach might take off.

The QNX portion of BlackBerry's business has not been much in focus the last few months as CEO John Chen has started his turnaround of the company. More attention has been focused on BlackBerry's struggling devices business, its renewed focus on enterprise services and mobility management and its BlackBerry Messenger service. However, QNX is clearly a pillar of the company's strategy going forward.

For more:
- see this release
- see this GigaOM article
- see this TechCrunch article

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