There's a lot of talk about "enterprise app stores." I'm not sure what the exact definition of an enterprise app store is, but the analogy most used is something like "imagine Apple's iPhone App Store, except for corporate IT apps instead of consumer iPhone apps."
Proponents of enterprise app stores list several benefits, including:
- Users can provision their own apps, so instead of entering a helpdesk ticket and waiting weeks for a new app, they can just click the icon in the app store and start using the new app immediately.
- Apps in an enterprise app store are delivered via some form of app virtualization, so they can be used immediately without having to be "installed" and without the worry of them conflicting with existing apps.
There are several enterprise app stores on the market now:
In general I like the concept of user-provisioned IT and applications. But I have a problem with the concept of the enterprise app store: I don't understand how these app stores are different than existing app delivery products. How is an enterprise app store different than Citrix XenApp, for example?
With XenApp, I can build a web interface that links to icons for my applications. I can deliver locally streamed apps (via XenApp Streaming or App-V). seamless remote-hosted Apps (hosted on single-user VMs or as Terminal Server sessions), and web apps (via links to URLs). I can put them into groups and folders. There's a search functionality for users to find new apps.It seems to me that Citrix XenApp with a web interface is an enterprise app store. (And it seems like it has been since 1998.) So what's all the fuss
It seems that in the future, these enterprise app stores will integrate with various workflow engines so that they can automate the approval and requisition process for new apps too. (So a user clicks on an app, it sends an email to his or her boss for approval. Once approved, it assigns a license and makes the app available to the user.) Of course products like this have existed for years in the traditional desktop space, but they (and the new enterprise app stores that offer this capability) suffer from the fact that automated workflows are something that sound great in theory but that require a lot of work in the real-world and overall have a lukewarm reception.
Some of these enterprise app store products integrate traditional apps too (MSI, etc.), so I guess maybe that's the overall value? And enterprise app store isn't much really—just a single common aggregation point for all corporate apps that a user might want to access? Am I missing anything?
It's not that I think the concept of the enterprise app store is bad per se. I'm more approaching this like, "Um, hello? We've been doing this since 1998. It's called Web Interface." But I guess now that the Apple App Store is popular we're seeing the rebranding and growth in the enterprise? (Much like how in 2007 Citrix decided that they'd been doing app virtualization since 1996.)
So is that it with the enterprise app store, or am I missing something. Do you use them (or plan to) in your company? If so, what's the specific value you get out of an enterprise app store that you can't get with something like XenApp web interface?