Enterprise App Stores: A Good Idea?

Should employees be able to download enterprise applications just like smartphone users download consumer software from online app stores?

That's a question some IT shops and software vendors are pondering, according to a Jan. 10 blog post by Gartner Inc. analyst Dennis Gaughan.

He said that an enterprise app store could help IT deploy and maintain corporate apps more easily while tracking downloads and usage trends. "It's a very compelling idea, one that software vendors and service providers are thinking about to help sell more software and/or services," he added.

"The idea has legs," Gaughan concluded, but he cautioned that there are big hurdles to overcome because of the differences between heavy-duty enterprise apps and inexpensive smartphone apps:

  • Unlike Apple Inc.'s popular App Store, where one company controls everything except code development, an enterprise app store would have to deal with a wide variety of technologies and vendors. "It would also require a level of cooperation between vendors that, to say the least, has been difficult to achieve," Gaughan said.
  • Smartphone apps work independently, whereas enterprise apps (like order management and logistics) need to work together and share data.
  • An enterprise app store would need a standardized approach to provisioning, billing and maintenance for all of the store's software, while IT would have to ensure compliance with licensing terms.
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