Emerging Tech: Alternatives to Apple App Store, For Enterprises

Apple's App Store and iTunes are great for consumers but kludgy for companies. Yet only recently have enterprises been able to find an enterprise app store of their own -- for better mobile app deployment and management.

Last year, Curtis Cuozzo, manager of sales force automation at Talecris Biotherapeutics, sent out CDs with an internal enterprise iPhone app to a trial group of 60 sales folks. They were asked to follow a 15-step process that included loading the CD on their laptops, downloading the app to iTunes, and syncing with their iPhones. Cuozzo made lots of follow-up phone calls to see how they did. "We had about a 50 percent success rate deploying it through iTunes," he says. "It was a very cumbersome process."

The 180-person U.S. sales group at Talecris, a global biotechnology firm specializing in critical care treatments for people with life-threatening disorders, had traded in their BlackBerries for iPhones in the fall of last year. All were supposed to have two custom-made enterprise iPhone apps in the areas of sales training and communications.

But how could Talecris continue down the iPhone path when deployment of critical apps seemed so precarious? The risk would only rise with more apps and iPhones in the field. Cuozzo decided the right solution would be a private, enterprise-class app store similar to the public Apple App Store to ease deployment and management. He checked out 10 vendors purported to be in this market, yet only one had an actual product at the time, Apperian. "We decided to be a beta customer," Cuozzo says.

A Private App Store For Your Enterprise

Earlier this month, Apperian's Enterprise App Service Environment, or EASE, emerged from beta. EASE is an iPhone app that lists a company's internal enterprise apps that can be downloaded and used by employees. Think of it as a private App Store customized for a company, whereby in-house apps are managed by IT and deployed securely via Apperian's cloud service.

(EASE is free to app developers, and free to customers with up to 100 devices. Currently, EASE only supports iPhones and iPads. Apperian plans to offer an Android-based version of EASE in the first quarter of 2011.)

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