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Company-specific 'app stores' on the rise

In my 2012 trends piece for SearchITChannel, I touched on an emerging trend that (to me at least) seemed a little “out there” – the rise of application “stores” within companies that were modeled after the popular ones serving up mobile apps for the Apple iOS and Google Android.

There’s some new research out from Gartner, however, that reinforces that shift. Here’s the high-level finding: by 2017, approximately one-quarter of all businesses will run some sort of internal app store for managing corporate-sanctioned software.

The main reason this is happening? It’s another outcome of the bring your own device (BYOD) and the related bring your own application (BYOA) phenomenon. By controlling the apps that employees can download to their personal smartphones and tablet computers, companies are hoping to exercise more control over security and software expenditures, according to Gartner.

It’s not just about mobile apps, either. These stores could provide better control over desktop and cloud application provisioning. Or, at the very least, better insight into how is downloading what and who should pay for it.

“Bring your own application (BYOA) has become as important as BYOD in the development of a comprehensive mobile strategy, and the trend toward BYOA has begun to affect desktop and Web applications as well,” said Ian Finley, research vice president at Gartner. “Enterprise app stores promise at least a partial solution, but only if IT security, application, procurement and sourcing professionals can work together to successfully apply the app store concept to their enterprises.”

Technology solution providers definitely have a role to play in helping organize these marketplaces, potentially through deployments of mobile device management software. They also could have a role in defining the broader access control policies that extend the store concept beyond the mobile platform to other corporate software assets.

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