App stores not only address the business need for control of software licensing, but also meet modern employees' expectations for a consumer-driven experience when it comes to accessing IT services in the workplace. The benefits in terms of higher employee productivity and improved satisfaction are compelling. In addition, by automating one-off software requests and enabling self-service operating system deployments and migrations, an enterprise app store saves many hours of expensive IT staff time, driving down costs substantially. Here are a few real-world examples of the tangible results realized:
Enterprise Best Practice # 3 - Stock the Store and Keep It Current
Successful app stores offer a rich selection of applications that are ready for immediate deployment. Those applications should be kept current with the latest patches and updates. They should also be available for all the operating environments and devices that users have: desktop and laptop computers, virtual desktops and mobile devices.
Keeping items current is a tough job because the application environment is continually changing. In the typical enterprise, over 30 percent of the applications have to be updated, repackaged and redeployed annually. A major problem in enterprises is that IT has maintained standardization of applications well beyond the time the applications have been upgraded. For example, some enterprises have maintained Office 2007 well beyond the introduction of Office 2013. Many of them have put off updates because of the huge effort involved in maintaining application compatibility and the update processes. The Microsoft application compatibility toolkit offers some help here, but only for part of the process.
Integrating with an Application Readiness solution helps ensure that the app store is automatically stocked with applications that have been prepared consistently with IT standards and are compatible with the end user's devices, this ensures reliability and supportability of the applications available to the end user community. The store should house the current versions of those applications with the apps packaged for all the operating environments and devices users have. The Application Readiness solution streamlines the updating of existing applications in the store as well as streamlining the addition of new applications.
Application Readiness solutions offer the advantage of automating compatibility testing and packaging of new or updated applications. They also automate application remediation and conversion to accelerate migration of applications to new operating systems such as Windows 7, 8, and soon 10 as well as to new technologies such as desktop and application virtualization. The Application Readiness solution ensures that the applications operate reliably in the new environments while minimizing the time and effort required to repackage the applications.
Application Readiness solutions should automatically publish new applications to the appstore at the same time they publish them to the enterprise software deployment system such as Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (Microsoft SCCM) or the Symantec Altiris Client Management Suite.
Coming up: Enterprise Best Practice #4 - Focus on the User Experience
Have you upgraded to App V 5 yet?
Microsoft released Version 5 of App V in November 2012, and it was a third generation major overhaul of the entire platform. Version 5 modernized the product, to support newer operating system features and improvements to virtualization. Microsoft App V 4.x is still in widespread use, but is only 10 months away from Microsoft's standard end of support date of July 2015.
Migrating hundreds or thousands of virtual applications from Microsoft App V 4 to App V 5 can be a time consuming and laborious task. Keeping up with the increasing pace of new releases from vendors, like Microsoft, requires a mature Application Readiness Process that enables organizations to automate the testing and conversion of virtual applications and the migration to the next version of App V.
Join the Microsoft App V Product Manager and learn how to accelerate the move to Microsoft App-v 5.0 watch the webinar on demand or sign up for the App-V Packaging course and find a location near you.
When implementing an enterprise app store, it is important to consider both the needs of users and the needs of IT. IT wants to provide employees a consumer-like experience without jeopardizing control and ensuring maximum utilization of expensive software assets. The following best practice is #2 of 7 that will help ensure wide adoption of your enterprise app store by balancing effective financial control with high-quality service delivery. Download all 7 best practices in the white paper, "Best Practices for Governance and Compliance using an Enterprise App Store"
Enterprise Best Practice # 2 - Reduce, Recycle and Reuse
In most enterprises, a number of software licenses are allocated but are lying dormant for a number of reasons. The employee who was assigned the license might have changed jobs within the company or left the company entirely. The licenses for these applications remain allocated even though they are no longer in use. In the Key Trends in Software Pricing and Licensing Survey, 56 percent of enterprises say that 11 percent or more of their application spend is associated with applications that are underused. Moreover, at a recent Flexera Software webinar, 60 percent of the participants said they do not have a process in place for reclaiming unused licenses. Consequently, idle licenses present an opportunity for significant cost recovery.
There are two approaches to minimize the number of idle licenses. You can implement software leasing or you can reclaim and reallocate idle licenses. With leasing, licenses are assigned for a specific time period and then reclaimed and returned to the available license pool where it is made available to other employees that may need it. Leasing is a good way to handle expensive applications and applications used seasonally or by temporary contractors. You can also use leasing for software needed for short-term projects, such as by leasing Microsoft Project.
App store solutions should automate both approaches to license conservation based on policy. In automating a license reclamation process, the app store must communicate with a Software License Optimization solution to gather and maintain application usage data on all users to provide visibility into who is using what applications and how frequently. The app store notifies users with idle licenses of IT's intent to reclaim the licenses. The users can optionally relinquish the license or provide justification for keeping it.
Enterprises typically get better results from software license conservation programs by engaging users. To get users involved, the app store must provide them with feedback, such as what applications are installed on their devices, the cost of the applications and which applications are unused or infrequently used. Also, if you let users know they can get a surrendered application back very quickly if they need it, they will be more willing to relinquish applications they don't use very often.
It's also important to provide cost transparency to users such as through chargeback or showback. Cost feedback sensitizes users to the high cost of software and encourages them to be more prudent in requesting applications and relinquishing applications they no longer use.
Coming up: Enterprise Best Practice #3 - Stock the Store and Keep It Current
If implemented following best practices, enterprise app stores can reduce software license compliance risks and fees, while increasing the ROI of the entire application portfolio. Reducing software spending and maintaining proper governance and compliance of software licenses is an imperative for organizations of any size. Easier access to business apps through an enterprise app store delivers clear benefits for employees. That alone is a compelling reason for embracing this technology. However, the self-service model also offers major benefits for the enterprise. Defining and implementing a strategy for an enterprise app store following a few best practices will make a huge difference with a very meaningful ROI, but without the right solution, an app store can compound existing problems.
Take care that the enterprise app store does not exacerbate the problem of maintaining software license compliance. IT must ensure that sufficient software licenses are available to meet the needs of the business. Another important consideration is that the app store must help ensure that the software installed on employee devices is actually used and not sitting idle. Without proper oversight and governance, these problems can quickly compound and result in license compliance audits and fines as well as overbuying of software licenses. An enterprise app store can help find the right balance between too many licenses that drive up costs and too few licenses that increase compliance risk.
The challenge for IT is to offer users a consumer-like experience while still maintaining control. That requires establishing best-practice processes for implementing and managing the app store, and supporting and automating those processes with the right technology. In future posts, we will present seven best practices identified based on the experiences of early adopters and research from independent firms such as Gartner, Inc., and Forrester Research, and how the right solution can support these practices to ensure success and maximize the value that your enterprise app store will deliver.
Seven Practices for Success
In implementing an app store, it's important to consider both the needs of users and the needs of IT. Users want a consumer-like experience in obtaining digital services. IT wants to provide that experience without jeopardizing control. The following best practices will help you ensure wide adoption of your app store by balancing effective control with high-quality service delivery.
Enterprise Best Practice # 1 - Always Know Your License Position
Complying with software license contract terms is a burdensome but necessary job. Noncompliance can be costly. True-up costs as a result of an audit can run in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars. In the Application Usage Management Survey: Consumerization of IT: Opportunities & Risks, more than half of organizations indicated that they don't have a plan to balance the need for self-service with the ability to maintain continual software license compliance: 35 percent do not know how they'll accomplish this balancing act, and almost a quarter of respondents–24 percent–have no plans to do so. Ensuring that each application delivered through the app store is properly allocated and licensed eliminates excess spending.
To maintain continuous license compliance, the store needs accurate license position data that includes how many licenses the enterprise owns, how many are allocated, how many are in use and how many are available globally or by group. At the time an employee requests an application, the store must check license availability. The check must be made in real time so as to avoid delays in delivery. If a license is available, the app store should reserve that license so it cannot be allocated to another user requesting the application later (there's no cutting in line). If a license is not available to fill the request, the app store should trigger a process that engages the procurement team to acquire additional licenses.
The process is automated through integration of the app store with solutions to manage the entire enterprise application lifecycle.
Steps 1 and 2: Applications are packaged and authorized, then deployed simultaneously to the software deployment system and the enterprise app store.
Step 3: The user requests an application through the app store.
Step 4 and 5: The app store checks availability and reserves a license. If no license is available, the procurement team is notified to review the impact of the request.
Step 6 and 7: When a license is reserved, the app store initiates the approval process and upon authorization, triggers deployment to the user's device. When delivery is accomplished, the license status is updated from reserved to consumed and if the delivery fails, an incident is created at the service desk to enable proactive support.
Tip: It's a good idea to get users involved in software license compliance by providing feedback on their level of participation such as with a Software Policy Score. If an application is out of compliance, the app store can alert the user and solicit information from the user to prove that an application has been acquired legally, such as by submitting proof of purchase.
When IT-wide processes such as preparing applications for deployment and managing license and contracts are managed poorly, expensive errors can occur, resulting in costly delays, lost productivity, and overspending. IT teams of every size use Flexera Software Workflow Manager to coordinate IT process management—from application packaging and deployment, though software licensing and optimization after deployment to reduce costs and maximize productivity.
Workflow Manager 2014 now coordinates and streamlines mobile application management through the Application Readiness process.
The latest version of Workflow Manager 2014 is now generally available and the new capabilities and enhancements include:
NEW - Multi-browser Support - Workflow manager supports all leading browsers including; Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer. Access the workflow dashboard, design templates, and manage projects using the browser of your choice.
Get Your Copy of Workflow Manager 2014 Now!
To download the installation files, read the download and Licensing Instructions and download the new version from the Flexera Software Product and License Center. You will need your Flexera Software Product and License Center login to be able to download the product.
In the past, enterprises have approached the packaging and deployment of software in a project-by-project basis. Today enterprises face more complex application challenges including multiple application formats, BYOD initiatives, mobile application management and application virtualization. How can enterprise architects and application managers stay ahead of the curve and keep up with increasing demand and end users expectations?
Whether you are a current AdminStudio customer or currently considering a solution for application packaging, this webinar provides the top three recommendations to help you develop a continuous process to manage complexities in today’s consumerized IT environment.
In a recent blog post "Enterprise Conversations on Internet Explorer Support Changes", the App Compat Guy discusses the recent change in support for Microsoft Internet Explorer and the challenges corporate customers are facing.
"I speak to customers all the time, and with every single customer I've spoken with, I find some vendors who only support IE8, some that may support IE8 and IE9 (my favorite was the one who was promising that they would get IE9 support in about a year!), some that support only n or n-1 so IE11 and IE10, and all kinds of other permutations. Windows 7, as one example, has 4 different versions of IE that have shipped on it – and vendors previously had the ability to choose to support whichever one(s) they wanted. The problem is, they don't all get together and agree!"
Enterprises invest a lot in applications and keeping those investments current helps drive innovation and productivity, but that increase in productivity comes at a cost. According to The App Compat Guy, "fragmentation is really a problem". In the enterprise, mergers, acquisitions and changes in business priorities also contribute to an increasingly complex computing environment that is tougher to support.
Flexera Software is one of those third parties mentioned in the blog post that are "really great… at "testing your stuff". We help customers quickly test and remediate application compatibility issues for IE 8, 9, 10, and 11, and more. We work with Microsoft and other vendors to ensure compatibility and supportability for a wide range of applications and platforms, including virtual and mobile. With the right solutions and automation in place customers can keep up with new releases and should never have to worry about being forced into transition by products that have reached their end of support.
If you're looking to maintain compatibility of Internet Explorer and Windows OS in your increasingly complex enterprise environment, try AdminStudio today.
At Level 4, IT organizations are ready for change and can quickly adopt new technologies like Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) or Mobile Application Management and keep up with the increasing frequency of software infrastructure updates and releases. Here IT has implemented a complete, end-to-end automated process for managing applications across their entire lifecycles in the enterprise, from purchase to retirement. IT has codified packaging standards and best practices, automated the request/fulfillment processes, and established a single point of service for applications and licenses. At this level, IT has integrated the Application Readiness process with other related business processes. This includes integration with Software License Optimization and IT service management processes to ensure that licenses are available for requested applications, optimize license spend, and improve service delivery and support.
In addition, IT has empowered end users to serve themselves in requesting applications using a consumer-like process. Users simply select the desired application from an enterprise app store. The requests are automatically validated, checked for license availability, routed for approval (if necessary), and the applications are delivered to the requesters quickly and reliably.
At Level 4 of the Application Readiness Maturity Model, the end-to-end process of managing the enterprise application lifecycle is fully automated.
The benefits of reaching Level 4 of Application Readiness are many. IT dramatically shrinks the time from request for a new application to delivery, and reduces costs through increased efficiency and informed demand planning. IT also aligns more closely with the business in that IT no longer has to wait for the business to tell IT what it needs. Instead, IT can proactively make application recommendations to line of business owners on applications that may be right for them. In addition, IT can now effectively manage SLAs and accurately predict the time to roll out new applications.
What's more, IT increases end-user productivity and satisfaction by empowering users with self-service access to applications. And that's not all. IT future proofs the application portfolio in that it can quickly add new applications and take on new technologies such as mobile devices, enabling the enterprise to maintain a competitive edge.
Flexera Software provides technology that supports you through all four levels of the Application Readiness Maturity Model. You can easily and incrementally add components of the technology as you mature your process. Contact a Flexera Representative for a discussion of where your organization is in the maturity of your application readiness process, and how you can be change ready for new application technologies.
Download the new white paper: Achieving Application Readiness Maturity: The key to accelerated service delivery and faster adoption of new application technologies. This paper presents the six-step Application Readinessprocess and describes the four-level maturity model to assess your organization's maturity in the process. It also provides recommendations on how you can get to a higher level of maturity so you will always be ready for change.
Application Readiness is a resource for IT Architects, IT Operations and Software Packaging Teams to streamline and accelerate application deployment for desktop transformation and cloud initiatives and adopt innovation-enabling technologies driving IT transformation such as Windows® 7 migration, virtualization, cloud computing and new application delivery models to multiple access devices.