10 good arguments for enterprise app stores

Everyone -- including top executives -- is familiar with mobile app stores. Here's why enterprise services, apps, and APIs should also be distributed the same way.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

In the latest survey I've seen on the subject, about 44 percent of organizations surveyed have or are interested in establishing enterprise app stores — meant as centralized directories for services, applications, and APIs that are available for integration or consumption, and can be downloaded or reviewed in a single click or two. 

iPad photo by Joe McKendrick 5-2013
Photo: Joe McKendrick

The advantages seem pretty straightforward, and in a world where just about everyone is familiar with the Apple App Store, iTunes, and Google Play, it shouldn't take a whole lot of convincing executives and employees of the need to make your own corporate services, apps, and APIs available through a similar setup. After all, the executive to whom you're making your pitch may have just purchased and downloaded an app right before the meeting.

Then again, as noted in the survey above, 56 percent of enterprises are still not yet on board. For those seeking to sell enterprise app stores to their management, it's helpful to take a look at the entire range of benefits that come from having an enterprise app store. In a recent post, John Mathon spells out the case that can be made for adoption:

1. Make things easier for the end user: Why make users go to three different places for three types of interfaces (apps, APIs, and mobile apps)?  Often, these three categories are intertwined.

2. Enhance security: "Having all enterprise assets in one store means that it is easier to manage what users and roles can see what APIs and apps," Mathon says. Certain employees, partners, or customers will see only the apps they're supposed to see.

3. Increase manageability:  "If the performance is a problem in one API it may affect lots of different things," says Mathon. "Having a single place to see the relationship between entities and their SLAs and respective performance, usage makes managing all these things easier. "

4. Provide intelligence: "A single store provides a single place you can go to find information about usage of an enterprise entity, to collect big data so that you can see how your APIs, your apps, and your mobile apps are being used by whom."

5. Lower costs: "By centralizing management, administration and simplifying subscription, communication and being able to see how to share resources better."  With everything in one place, there's less of a need for IT professionals to be running around the enterprise trying to keep things up to date, or trying to figure out why a system crashed. In addition, centralized purchasing of applications means more clout with vendors, and perhaps volume discounts.

6: Foster adoption: There's a real social aspect to enterprise app stores, says Mathon. End-users will be able to share comments, tips, advice, and best practices within the app store environment.

7: Increase innovation:  "By providing a place for people to see all the enterprise assets, they can see how they can improve them, they see how they can communicate their ideas for improvement.  They may see that they can benefit by improving something, by suggesting something, by doing something."

Along with Mathon's points, here's what else enterprise app stores can do:

8. Provide baked-in process improvement: Increasing access to services. applications, and APIs that have already been vetted, tested, and improved by other business units also means access to processes and procedures may already align to the business's goals. For example, a purchase order service or API already will conform to business policies.

9. Ensure greater visibility and value for IT: Tech departments no longer are mysterious behind-the-scenes entities — the layout of the enterprise IT landscape is visible to all. Plus, the app store enables IT to demonstrate its value and offerings side by side with outside cloud or app providers.

10. Measure true application, service, or API costs: Through chargebacks or showbacks, tracking transactions by various departments accessing the app store will help IT determine the true costs of usage, versus the hidden subsidies now part of enterprise IT usage.

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