Requirements for Selecting a Universal Enterprise App Store

Although application lifecycle management has always been challenging for enterprise IT, application service delivery and related tasks have become far more complex over the last few years. This increase in complexity can be attributed directly to the consumerization of IT.

It wasn’t really all that long ago that most large organizations provided standardized desktop systems for their employees. Although the desktop hardware wasn’t usually consistent across the organization, the desktop operating system, patches, and base configuration typically was. For example, an organization might have chosen Windows 7 with SP1 as the standard desktop operating system for their employees.

Today there is really no such thing as a standard endpoint device. While many organizations do still maintain standards for enterprise desktops, Windows desktops are no longer the only endpoint device from which users are working. Users today work from all manner of mobile devices both at the office, and while away from the office. Furthermore, users may also choose to work remotely from a personal computer whose configuration in no way resembles that of a standard corporate desktop. In short, Administrators may find themselves suddenly having to support a mixture of Windows and Mac computers, as well as just about any mobile device imaginable.

It is this proliferation of random devices that has led to the increased complexity of application delivery. After all, how is an administrator to deploy an application to the users who need it when the users are working from a huge variety of device types and operating systems?

Some organizations have attempted to address this problem through the use of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI). In a VDI environment, desktop operating systems are virtualized and run on a backend server. Endpoint devices act as thin clients that remotely connect to virtual desktops.

On the surface, VDI would appear to be an ideal solution to the device proliferation problem. After all, VDI technology allows enterprise IT to continue to run a standard desktop operating system and a standard set of applications, and employees can connect from the device of their choosing.

Today there is really no such thing as a standard endpoint device.

The problem with using VDI in this way is that device form factor can become a major problem. Most of today’s mobile devices are touch screen devices with no physical keyboard or mouse. Anyone who has ever tried to interact with Windows 8’s desktop mode using a touch screen knows that interacting with a non-touch optimized environment from a touch screen device is cumbersome at best. Never mind the fact that a line of business application that is designed to run in full screen mode on a PC doesn’t tend to display very well on a five-inch screen.

Users will generally have a better experience if they use applications that are specifically designed for their device. For example, a user is probably going to have an easier time using a touch optimized version of Microsoft Office that is specifically designed for their mobile device than they would if they tried to use the desktop version of Office on a touch screen device.

Of course this approach introduces challenges of its own. How can enterprise IT manage a huge collection of applications that are designed for a variety of different devices and operating systems?

Even as IT professionals work to address the challenges associated with application delivery, they must also deal with other problems such as shadow IT. At first shadow IT might seem to be an unrelated problem, but the challenges of shadow IT and application management are often closely related.

Users will generally have a better experience if they use applications that are specifically designed for their device.

UNIVERSAL APP STORE REQUIREMENTS

  • Governance over software licensing
  • Automation of application request and delivery
  • Integration with IT Service Management
  • Support for PC, Mac, and mobile devices
  • Can be stocked with desktop, cloud, and mobile applications
  • Rich reporting capabilities
  • The ability to reclaim unused licenses