Enterprise app store: Do you really need it?

The runaway success of Apple’s App Store has fuelled the optimism and enthusiasm of other app store enthusiasts who now see an app store as the standard medium for delivering / provisioning applications. Yes, Apple’s App Store has been a resounding success, but this success is within the consumer space. Advocates of consumerisation, BYOD etc. have noticed the ease and simplicity of provisioning applications to consumers in the Apple App Store, and want this ease replicated within enterprises too.

Some products e.g. Microsoft SCCM2012, Citrix Cloud Gateway, Flexera AdminStudio, Symantec Altiris Notification Services etc. contain some form of services akin to an app store through which requests for applications can be fulfilled.  Some of the benefits being advocated by these vendors are: increased customer satisfaction and time saving, because it removes the requirement to phone the service (help) desk to request applications and also automates the endless non-automated tasks which sometimes have to be fulfilled before applications can be delivered to customers.

One other factor driving the enthusiasm behind the adoption of the enterprise app store is the move towards a “user centric” management. In the past IT had concentrated solely on “device” management but the move towards “user centricity” is in fact a late realisation by IT that the customer is indeed “the KING”. This move towards a “user centric” management makes it imperative that “customer satisfaction” despite the associated difficulty in quantifying it,  has become one of the key requirements any new IT service must meet.

However, before you invest in an enterprise app store, you should remember that application delivery  is not the only user and systems management activity in the end user management landscape in an enterprise. The following factors should have an impact on your decision making process:

  • Role based application delivery: Organisations with matured enterprise technology services already have processes in place to ensure that applications are delivered to consumers based on their roles and functions, independent of their devices. In such organisations, what will be the benefits of having an app store when consumers already have all applications they require? What is the purpose of consumer searching through the enterprise app store to discover applications that has nothing to do with their current role?
  • Operating System (OS) Patching: The recent quarterly result from Microsoft is indicative of enterprises still being deeply Windows centric (over 525 million Windows 7 licenses have been sold since launch) and despite the trend and growth of consumerisation, operating system patching is an activity that will not disappear over night. Most organisations have tool sets which incorporate functionalities for operating system patching, application delivery etc. and use cases will continue for these tool sets.
  • Operating System (OS) Build: Again, organisations still remain Windows centric and  having a common operating system build in organisations does lower the total cost of ownership of end user support. This does not take away from the fact that consumerisation is a growing trend but activities such as OS builds, OS patching etc. make it imperative to keep your systems management tool set.
  • Delivery of “core or base” applications to everyone: Core or base applications are normally delivered to everyone in an enterprise. With consumerisation, this may not be the case and users may indeed be given the opportunity to select and choose what they want. However, if your organisation uses a common set of productivity software, would you want someone using a different one because the device belongs to them? Would you want them also not using the productivity software because the device belongs to them? If they choose not to have those set of productivity software, are they really participating in work activities?
  • Patching or delivery of emergency hot fixes for applications is likely to continue to be a “push” process: A “pull” process is not ideal in a world of security breaches and emergency patches would have to be delivered asap using a push mechanism. Are you willing to give your consumers the ability to select and choose when they want to receive an emergency patch which is intended to prevent a security breach?

Organisations should be aware of the fragmentation that building a standalone app store may cause; if you must build an enterprise app store, you should ensure it is integrated with your existing or future systems management tool, otherwise you might have to resort to managing multiple application deployment / provisioning solution.  Furthermore, you should consider a role based application delivery solution before jumping on the bandwagon of the enterprise app store, because it may be all you need.

Additional Reading

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2 Responses to Enterprise app store: Do you really need it?

  1. Gordon says:

    Femi

    Like the points you raise – transitioning from current ‘enterprise’ user model to a new one based on an ‘apps store’ would certainly present a number of chalenges – Gordon.

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