Enterprise App Store (EAS) – The Way Forward

  Jul 23, 2013 3:06:04 AM

“By 2017, 25 percent of enterprises will have an enterprise app store”, according to Gartner.

How does the IT department at an organization share enterprise apps to employees who are geographically distributed and/or have their own devices? Gone are those days when IT used to enjoy complete control over company owned devices.  The growing trend of BYOD adds to difficulty in protecting corporate networks and addressing privacy concerns. A move towards transparent and flexible solutions is necessary.

Can they be hosted on Public app stores? A big ‘No’ because public app stores aren't suitable for enterprise needs:

  • Enterprise apps shouldn't be visible outside corporate boundaries
  • These are much more than “99 cent” apps both in terms of cost and complexity. Need to maintain high levels of security
  • App filtering based on role, department, etc.
  • Embedding intelligence to avoid using apps whose license is either expired or in conflict with other entitlements

To overcome these problems IT departments have turned towards Enterprise App Stores as a viable solution that provides greater accessibility while ensuring adequate protection.

An enterprise app store (EAS) is a portal for managing corporate-sanctioned apps which employees can access, download and install on their devices.

Benefits with EAS are multifold

  • Greater degree of control – App filtering based on employee’s role, department, etc. IT can also ensure latest and right version of apps is being used.
  • Secure passage to outside world – EAS can function as a proxy to public app stores thus ensuring downloaded apps are safe and avoid any malware.
  •  Gather feedback and improvise – User habits can help IT gather valuable feedback to create ‘recommended apps’ list.
  •  Centralized execution and lesser human intervention – EAS allows employees to find and download apps by themselves. Any updates pushed to server get notified to all installed devices.
  •  Simplified licensing terms and easy roll out of apps – Private EAS allows having much simpler licensing agreements.

Technology comes with its share of problems (read challenges) and EAS is no exception.

  • Data integrity and security – As an EAS bearer IT has to take care of both transactional and persistent data especially on BYOD devices.
  • Replicating app store like user experience – EAS has to support multiple device platforms and apps sourced from various means: in-house, 3rd party. The challenge lies in integration and providing unified experience.
  • Ensuring license compliance – It’s difficult for a company with global footprint to have all apps bearing a common license agreement. Ensuring license compliance across geographies is the key.
  • Discrete vs. connected apps – An inventory app may need to share information with procurement/logistics app to take stock of things. Maintaining this connectivity is little hard if they are from different vendors.

The idea has legs and takes a step closer towards anytime, anywhere availability with absolute high on security and licensing enforcements. EAS concept opens up a land of opportunities for IT, app developers and back-end hosting/maintenance services. This being in its infancy may take time to mature, but looks promising with optimistic projections (Gartner, ABI) and encouragement from industry leaders (Google Play Private Channel, iOS Enterprise Program).

In Sasken we are working on enabling enterprises to build their own app store.

Authored by Raghavendra Rayadurga

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