3 ways enterprise app stores differ from consumer app stores

Enterprise app stores actually have a lot of legal and organizational issues associated with sales or downloads not seen on the consumer side.

Internal enterprise app stores are the ultimate manifestation of being service oriented. They are as graphical and easy to use as consumer app stores, are populated by well-vetted, compliant services that come from across the enterprise, and may even feature a chargeback (or at least "showback") type of mechanism to account for costs.  However, they are not as simple to use as the Apple or Android app stores. 

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In a post over at Network World, Maureen Polte of Flexera Software provides some details on how enterprise app stores differ from their consumer counterparts. They may even look the same up front, but enterprise app stores hare actually very different than consumer stores -- enterprise apps cost a lot more than the "99-cent" apps seen on consumer sites, and tend to be far more complex. There's also a need to track licenses, and pay greater attention to security.

Here are the three major distinctions:

Enterprise app stores seek to limit, not expand, sales: Unlike consumer stores which are designed to get users to buy as many apps as possible, enterprise app stores need to control or even limit purchases. "For instance, giving employees the choice between standard, professional and premium versions without consideration to their business needs and feature requirement is a recipe for high license costs," says Polte. "Enterprises should therefore only make available a filtered catalog of apps, tailored to the role and needs of users within various departments, that meets actual business requirements -- no more, no less."

Enterprise app store purchases/downloads need tight workflows: Either manually or in an automated fashion, purchases or downloads from enterrpise app stores are subject to review by security teams and application owners "to ensure the business case and use rights are valid," Polte says. As a result, enterprise app stores need workflow systems attached to enable this review and approval process. 

Enterrpise app store purchases/downloads are subject to existing corporate licensing agreements: "If an enterprise issues licenses it doesn't have, or those licenses are issued in violation of specific entitlements in the license agreement, the enterprise can expose itself to unbudgeted six-, seven- and oftentimes eight-figure software audit true-up penalties," says Polte. Plus, there needs to be intelligence in the app store that tracks existing license agreements. "If there is unused software that can be reclaimed or reharvested to fulfil the employee app request, the app store must be smart enough to recognize these inventories, otherwise serious overspending on licenses will result."