Guest Post: Power to the people – AppStores for the enterprise

By Dave Harding, product manager at 1E 

The consumerisation of IT has undoubtedly been one of the industry’s favourite topics in 2012. While the majority of organisations will associate the term with the explosion of the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) phenomenon (and the associated task of tirelessly managing personal devices on the network), consumerisation has the potential to mean so much more to the enterprise. It’s not just about organisations managing the use of employee smartphones and tablets in the workplace, but more importantly about adapting to the change in user and administrator expectations about how IT should be accessed and used in a work environment.

As organisations continue to receive requests for more ‘self-service’ orientated working environments – where employees can request the applications and services they need, when they need them – it’s clear users expect a greater level of control. After all, why shouldn’t they be able to manage the business applications on their desktop in exactly the same way as the apps on their smartphone? A self-service portal that provides a unified ‘AppStore’, supporting both user- and machine-centric distribution, seeks to solve this dilemma giving organisations a level of business continuity as well as the flexibility to evolve as their business requirements change.

With this self-service approach, organisations can also manage group memberships through Active Directory, enabling them to request special privileges for its members, such as access to a shared folder, streaming software or to simply grant the group access to certain parts of the building. This also provides a perfect mechanism to distribute App-V or Citrix-delivered software.

The rising costs of applications means there has been growing demand to shift the approval process to the hands of business managers who can properly assess if a software request adds value to the business. Approval needs to be easy for business managers to do, for example, through notification via emails where they can easily approval or reject a request in seconds and users are notified of the progress of their request. This not only frees up time for the user but also significantly reduces the IT helpdesk’s workload, releasing them to concentrate on more pressing technical issues.

Administrators also have the option of providing applications to rent for temporary use, whereby users can request them for a fixed period after which they are automatically put back into the pool for other users to employ, further reducing the costs associated with purchasing unnecessary software licences. Note that a mechanism to allow for quarantine periods required by some specific software vendors when reallocating software is required here. A good self-service portal will automatically account for such quarantine periods.

As organisations move to utilise the new capabilities of System Center 2012 Configuration Manager such as user-centric deployment in the new application model and the different delivery methods that brings with it, it is important to consider all the different ways in which end users want to interact with a self-service request portal.

In order to deliver true business value and further enhance the consumer experience provided by ConfigMgr 2012, the enterprise needs to satisfy everyday user demands as well as listen to and act on its administrators’ needs where possible. Combining ConfigMgr 2012 with a self-service portal holds the answer to such a consumerisation conundrum.

Dave Harding - Product Manager AppClarity & Shopping - 1EDave Harding has been a product manager with global responsibility at 1E since joining 1E in 2011. Dave manages all aspects of the direction, roadmap, and implementation of the AppClarity and Shopping products within 1E and works closely with other members of the product management team. Dave has more than seven years’ experience in product management covering a range of products from desktop software to large enterprise solutions. Dave has worked to successfully implement complex solutions with customers across six continents. Dave holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Edinburgh. Dave lives in London and is a keen scuba diver and skier.