Because the PlayBook doesn't connect to existing versions of BES software, IT will need to upgrade to BlackBerry Mobile Fusion--which is the "next generation of BES," according to Alan Panezic, RIM's VP of enterprise software--in order to manage and secure PlayBooks the way they currently manage BlackBerry handhelds via BES. And they'll also have to upgrade their BES software to the latest version (v5.0.3) if they want to manage PlayBooks and pre-BlackBerry-10 devices via one central console. And even though doing so will offer IT a new, cleaner UI and some additional features--Mobile Fusion will soon support iOS and Android management, as well--that still means IT shops must dish out some cash for upgrades.
It's unfortunate that the PlayBook can't just connect to current versions of BES out of the box, because IT could then support it using the software they already have. But because RIM's PlayBook OS and the upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS have new, different software foundations, RIM wasn't able to make them compatible with the current BES software. (Read more details on this new relationship from Alan Panezic.)
And because the PlayBook now supports ActiveSync, a few things may change on the back end for administrators. PlayBooks, and upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices, that connect to corporate resources via ActiveSync will not send data through RIM's Network Operations Center (NOC) as traditional BlackBerry smartphones have in the past.
This fact has a number of implications for IT, most notably that BlackBerry services won't use the same data compression technology as they did in the past, which could be an issue for international travelers who roam on different cellular networks. Roaming data can be very pricey in these cases, so the old data compression methods had the potential to save significant cash for workers who frequently travel internationally.
PlayBook Browser, Keyboard and Lack of Cellular Connectivity
One major complaint I have with the BlackBerry PlayBook browser is that it crashes frequently, often when I have multiple tabs or other applications open. And the browser doesn't give me any option to restore the previously opened tabs. Overall, the PlayBook browser is a great tablet browser--it beats out the currently available iPad and the Chrome beta for Android 4.0 in the general HTML5 test--but the fact that it crashes so often greatly reduces its value.