steve schmidtThis guest post was contributed by Steve Schmidt, VP of Corporate Development, Flexera Software

Analyst house Gartner’s recent prediction that 25 per cent of organisations will have their own ‘app store’ by 2017 has caught the attention of many, but IT professionals and executives have a lot to prepare before they can successfully roll out their enterprise app stores. This perhaps hasn’t been highlighted enough.

Enterprise app stores deliver a number of advantages, including flexibility and staff empowerment, but once the floodgates open, it can be incredibly difficult for enterprises to manage software licensing and control entitlement and track actual software usage. Enterprise App stores are designed to give a consumer app store (iTunes)-like feel to them, but they have to actually be smarter than iTunes. For instance, they have to be able to run across complex environments such as Windows, virtualised environments, private and / or public clouds and SaaS – unlike consumer app stores that are designed to run primarily on specific operating systems. If users are downloading applications at will from enterprise app stores – simply trying out an app can potentially impact enterprises’ licencing compliance.

We’re walking a tightrope of enhanced user experience vs. licencing accountability – it is critical for enterprises to devise a strategy for executing and managing the app store environment and integrating some form of software licensing optimisation into corporate app stores in order to approve, track, manage and optimise usage of applications on it. The consequences of an unexpected, multi-million dollar true-up (annual balance check on software usage) can have a lasting economic impact whereas a little planning ahead of time can go a long way in curtailing unforeseen expenses.

In addition, by tying app stores into enterprises’ back-end Application Readiness processes (i.e. application assessment, packaging, format conversion, editing, etc.) can ensure that store shelves are stocked with apps that are ready for immediate delivery to users’ device of choice. This is essential to meet the demands of consumerisation of IT while minimising cost and risk to the organisation. Otherwise enterprises may find costs and software compliance spiralling out of control.

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