Research In Motion (RIM) announced general availability of BlackBerry Business Cloud Services for Microsoft Office 365. The new service for business and government organizations extends Microsoft Exchange Online to BlackBerry smartphones and allows customers to manage their BlackBerry deployments in the cloud.

The service is available at no additional charge to current medium-sized or enterprise subscribers of the Office 365 suite or standalone Exchange Online. It works with BlackBerry smartphones on business or consumer data plans.

"We continue to build upon the end-to-end BlackBerry solution for our business and government customers with both on-premise and cloud-based solutions, a range of technical support options to suit any size organization, and a growing ecosystem of apps and services for users," said Alan Panezic, vice president, Enterprise Product Management and Marketing at RIM, in a statement.

BlackBerry Business Cloud Services offers wireless synchronization with Microsoft Exchange Online email, calendar and organizer data from a BlackBerry smartphone; BlackBerry Balance technology; a web-based console for IT administrators to provision, manage and secure BlackBerry smartphones from anywhere; online access to employee self-service smartphone security functions.

The launch comes as RIM tries to get its ducks in a row under new CEO Thorsten Heins. RIM has promised to launch the next generation of its PlayBook software in February, which will all users to download and run Android apps on the BlackBerry slate. RIM is also expected to unveil devices running BB10 at some point this year.