Does every organization with an enterprise mobility program need an enterprise app store (EAS)?
Well, a very savvy wireless industry analyst once told me: “If the enterprise needs control [over mobile app distribution and security], it needs its own app store.” Given that all enterprises need control over security, I’d say yes, every mobile enterprise needs an EAS.
An EAS is essentially your own catalog of corporate-sanctioned applications – including Windows, web, SaaS and mobile apps – hosted in a central place that’s securable and manageable. Your employees use a local client or web portal to access the applications. There are commercially available platforms upon which you can build the EAS, either on your premises or in the cloud.
The control afforded by an EAS is critical. Your business is probably creating many custom and strategic mobile applications. You likely don’t want to publish them to the whole world via the Apple or Google app stores for both competitive and security reasons.
From the worker usability perspective, an EAS operates similarly to those consumer app stores. In fact, IT can set up and control a passageway to public app stores for distributing the commercial apps that users demand. At the back end, however, the apps (or access to them) are integrated into your identity or enterprise mobility management and policy-setting systems for secure delivery to your users’ mobile workspace. Worker ease of use in getting the apps they need is paramount, so having the same look-and-feel to accessing both public and corporate applications is a productivity builder.
If you haven’t built an EAS yet, how do you get started? As with most IT projects, first make some assessments about who needs what. Determine the complete set of apps being delivered to users – Windows, web, SaaS and mobile – and which user groups need access to which apps. Then, define organizational security requirements and policies for each app. For example, which apps can share data with one another? In many cases, you can control app data sharing through your enterprise mobility management platform.
Once you define all these requirements, you can begin building the EAS using the tools in the platform you select. Make sure the platform you use supports all the various application types and client devices that your employees might be using.
Phase in your highly mobile workers first; presumably, they will benefit the most. This might be field service workers or those carrying many types of devices. Deploy the new infrastructure hosting the EAS in parallel to your existing app delivery infrastructure to minimize user disruption and simplify IT change management.