Phone Apps could do More Harm than Good for SME's

Enterprises should exercise caution when considering application store service models, according to analysts.

Dennis Gaughan, enterprise software research vice president at Gartner, said in a blog post that trying to adopt the application

store approach used in smartphone, and more recently consumer software, services could pose risks in the enterprise.

"The goals and intentions behind an enterprise app store are good ones: make software easier to deploy and consume for end users," he said. "The reality of making this work is another matter entirely."

Gaughan explained that a number of key differences in the enterprise and consumer markets could represent unique challenges for would-be enterprise app stores.

Foremost is the sheer variety of platforms and services used by enterprises. The analyst pointed out that the number of vendors and the interoperating tools could make a store model impractical.

Gaughan also noted that, while smartphone application stores are managed by one group and applications run independently, enterprise applications are often created by different vendors and required to interact.

As such, any enterprise application service would face considerable difficulties in maintaining areas such as patch management and compliance standards.

Additionally, any application that seeks to bring developers together and integrate applications might require a heavy development toll for service providers.

Gaughan's posting comes as consumer vendors break new ground in application services. Apple recently touted the success of its Mac App Store in reaching one million downloads on its first day.

However, the analyst did not write off the possibility of enterprise application stores thriving in the coming years.

"Service providers are exploring what some call 'service marketplaces' to deliver more choices and easier consumption for customers," he said.

"I expect the vendor and service provider community to drive some interesting innovations in the next 12 months to start clearing some of these hurdles."

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