Time for CIOs to Create Cloud-Based App Stores
I've been charting the evolution of the corporate app store idea in this column for more than three years. Until recently, most of the focus has been on how various service providers and other institutions can establish app stores to resell apps to their customers. Now, enlightened CIOs are discovering they can also implement internal app stores to control the consumerization of IT and satisfy their corporate constituents.
I was first intrigued by the notion of banks and other institutions becoming commercial app store providers in 2010. Innovative companies like Bank of America and Staples have deployed online marketplaces with varying success.
Bank of America launched its appstore to strengthen its relationship with small- and mid-sized businesses. Staples added its App Center to its already robust online presence to add a rapidly growing array of Software as a Service and other cloud services to its portfolio from traditional office products.
I've always felt that opening an in-house app store within an organization made sense, in the same way the old company store served the needs of employees in the past. In fact, the rationale for moving in this direction is even more acute.
Every organization and associated CIO is being challenged by today's BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, phenomenon. Many are finding that as soon as they establish a policy and procedure for accommodating the BYOD pressures from their employees, they must contend with the secondary and more demanding effects of their end-users and executives bringing in their own apps (BYOA) to meet their day-to-day needs.
Creating an in-house app store filled with approved apps that employees can easily acquire and corporate IT departments can more effectively administer is a perfect response to this trend. A well-architected app store can replace the antiquated service catalogs of the past. It could not only provision the best apps available, but also monitor their usage, manage license fees, and help CIOs predict further app requirements.
I'm excited about a new generation of app store platforms that are making this happen and gaining acceptance in the market. A growing number of IT management vendors are also recognizing this rapidly evolving capability.
BMC Software's AppZone
The most recent example is BMC Software's acquisition this week of Partnerpedia, which has built an app store platform that recreates the experience people receive at consumer marketplaces such as Apple's iTunes, the Amazon Appstore and Google Play.
BMC is using the Partnerpedia platform to launch its own AppZone, a secure online appstore for cloud, mobile, custom and desktop applications. BMC is enlisting a widening array of apps to populate its AppZone, and it is educating CIOs about the practical advantages of adopting this type of solution to solve their shadow IT issues. It is also aligning AppZone with its myIT self-service capabilities.
I think you're going to see explosive growth in enterprise app stores that enable CIOs to regain control over renegade end-users and the consumerization of IT, and redefine how IT organizations deliver their services. In-house app stores are destined to become not only a pivotal piece of the IT service organization, but also an important new channel to market for SaaS and other cloud vendors seeking to access corporate users.