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:
- At Avnet, Inc., wait times for applications that don't require approvals dropped from two days to just a few minutes.
- For Kuoni, Inc., an enterprise app store has eliminated routine service desk calls which reduced help desk staffing requirements and costs.
- At Providence Health, applications are now delivered without IT intervention, saving hundreds of hours of staff time.
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