Business Management

John Juris (Global) - Key Steps to Building Out the Infrastructure and Strategy for Enterprise Mobile App Stores

With the explosion in the consumerisation of IT and BYOD trends, end users are demanding the same ease of use at the office as they have in their personal lives. Enterprises are being driven to develop a holistic strategy that provides the ease of use and access to apps that employees expect, and also allows IT to retain accountability and control of the license estate. And it all starts with the enterprise app store.

Organisations interested in offering an enterprise app store to their employees should follow these steps to ensure success:

Control user requests
Making applications available in an enterprise self-service model requires careful consideration and planning around visibility, approval, security and licensing requirements. Developing an appropriate structure within the App Store to control what apps a user can request ensures the user gets what they are looking for while the enterprise maintains administrative control.

In looking at these policies - cost comes into play. In consumer app stores, consumers rarely pay more than 99c. But for enterprise apps, the cost difference between, a standard and premium version can translate into thousands of pounds. Consideration of each employee's business needs and feature requirement is an essential consideration. The filtering process must be handled at the administrative level so enterprises need only make available a filtered catalogue of apps that meets actual business requirements - no more, no less.

There will always be unique requests that cannot be anticipated, however. Should the need arise for deviating from a standard offering, the organization should have means and processes in place for identifying the non-conforming business case. This can be done intelligently via an App Store capable of handling exceptions - one that can, for instance, generate questions relating to the differences between software editions, and recommend the edition that best suits the need.

Establish what's working, what's not, and what the future challenges will be
Enterprises need to ensure they have the right processes in place that both facilitate employees' access to apps, while still maintaining the necessary controls required for accountability. Not doing so can lead to overspend or compliance issues by taking a consumer-orientated approach, allowing anyone to request anything. These internal marketplaces need a process and workflow to maintain control. When cost is a consideration in determining approval, approvals should not be "rubber stamped" simply because a user requested an application and there is budget for it.

One solution to this is to ensure that the enterprise App Store has the functionality to allow the individual(s) with expertise in a specific app to be involved in the process in addition to the manager. Once the manager has approved the request from a cost perspective and the app owner from a business need, the final step is to ensure that the licensing being issued is in compliance with the enterprise's software license agreement and entitlements.

The number of licenses an enterprise has rights to, and the specific manner in which those licenses are entitled to be used - its license position - plays a key role in managing an enterprise App Store. 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 six-, seven- and often eight-figure penalties from the vendor.

Ensuring safeguards are in place to prevent licence non-compliance
The enterprise App Store should provide safeguards preventing access to and download of applications that are unavailable due to licensing and entitlement restrictions. With built-in App Store capability to alter the approval process based on ever-changing usage of applications, licensing requirements and entitlement rights, enterprises can adapt quickly to license availability limitations and prevent non-compliant use that would subject them to software license audit risk.

An enterprise's asset management "maturity level" determines how effective an enterprise App Store can be making real time licensing and entitlement decisions. If ownership and usage rights are managed and tracked manually (i.e. in spreadsheets or emails) then the enterprise will have difficulty taking into account an organisation's true license position and therefore, knowing which applications to make available.

In contrast, organisations that have deployed sophisticated software license optimisation systems are much better armed with the tools necessary to make real time decisions around licensing. Ensuring that the enterprise App Store is integrated with the software license optimisation solution allows faster business decisions and more sophisticated cost controls.

Enterprise app stores are key to facilitate the entire consumerisation of IT and BYOD trends - not just mobility. The reason is simple. Employees want anytime, anywhere, anyhow access to the apps they need to do their job. They don't think in terms of "mobile", "on premises", "cloud", "browser based", etc; they just want their apps on the devices they happen to be using. But there must also be the back end controls, processes and workflow to ensure the enterprise is protected and retains control - without hampering end user access.

By John Juris, Flexera Software



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