Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: Embarcadero Technologies.
Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.
Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on how enterprise app stores are quickly creating productivity and speed-to-value benefits for PC users and IT departments alike.
We’ll specifically examine what steps businesses can take to build and develop their own enterprise app stores for mainstream use. We'll further see what rapid and easy access to self-service apps on PCs and notebook computers through such app stores is doing for businesses.
The popularity of mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, on one hand, has energized users, but on the other hand it’s caused IT and business leaders to scramble to adjust to new models of applications delivery.
We’ll explore here how app stores are part of the equation for improved work and process success on and off the job. We’ll see how Embarcadero’s AppWave solution brings the mobile apps experience to millions of PC users in their workplace in the enterprise.
We’ll also hear from the author of a recent Ovum white paper on why app stores are so important for enterprises, as they consider ways to better track, manage, and distribute all of their applications.
Please join me now in welcoming our panel. We're joined today by Tony Baer, Principal Analyst at Ovum. Welcome back to the show, Tony.
Tony Baer: Hey, Dana. Good to be here.
Gardner: We’re also here with Michael Swindell, Senior Vice President of Products and Marketing at Embarcadero Technologies. Welcome, Michael.
Michael Swindell: Hi. Thank you, Dana.
Gardner: And we’re also here with Richard Copland, Principal Innovation Consultant at Logica. Welcome, Richard. [Disclosure: Embarcadero is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Richard Copland: Hi, Dana.
Gardner: Tony, let me start with you. You've written a white paper in the recent past on app stores and why they’re important in enterprises. Were you surprised in any way at how broad this app store model can be used and is starting to be used for all sorts of applications?
Baer: I was a little bit surprised because there is certainly a concept leap from a $1.99 little applet that you pull down from the iPhone app store or from the Android marketplace to a full-blown enterprise desktop application.
That being said, it’s not surprising, given that there’s been a huge demand from the bottom-up, from the people in the workplace. So it’s a phenomenon that’s probably better known as the consumerization of IT -- "I have these sophisticated mobile devices and tablets. Why can’t I get that easy to use experience on my regular machine for my day job?"
Therefore, the demand for the comfort and convenience of that was inevitably bound to spread into the enterprise environment. You've seen that manifested in a number of ways. For example, companies have basically embraced more social collaboration. And you’re also starting to see some use of many of these new form factors.
So again, what Embarcadero has been starting to introduce is symbolic in a way that’s really not surprising.
Gardner: Richard Copland, any thoughts on this as well? Tell us a bit about your organization, Logica, and your role as a Principal Innovation Consultant.
Copland: My role as a Principal Innovation Consultant is effectively twofold. It's to find new things and introduce new things to our clients. Something innovative to me is something that's new to you and provides a benefit. This can be cash, people, or green ideas. I spend my day looking at cool new stuff, which means ways of working, technologies, partners, and even wacky research coming out of the various universities here in Europe.
I get involved in schedules of client discussions, and people look to me and my team to bring ideas to life, to help answer that question, which is a challenge where there must be a better way. An example of that is the enterprise app store being a better way for things. Then, it’s unpacking that and exploring how you might help create that vision of the answer and empower them to believe that these things are possible now.
A bit about Logica: We're a business and technology service company. We provide business consulting, system integration, and outsourcing to our clients around the world including many of Europe’s largest businesses.
Last year, we did just under £4 billion globally with 800 million of that being here in the UK. We create value by successfully integrating people, business, technology, and a key part of this is the innovation piece. Clients look to us to bring innovation and innovative things, and Embarcadero's AppWave and the concept of the business application certainly falls into that category.
In terms of those larger trends, which are driving or almost overseeing the consumerization of IT, I step it back, and say that it’s almost as we are as a service concept which is the fragmentation and segmentation of people looking to get more and more value being directed to them, specifically to their needs, and as a result of that, it’s the on-demand concept.
For me, it’s also the whole Generation Next piece which is about a whole new generation that is educated and tech-savvy. They're multitasking all the time. They work as consumers. They're purchasing products and customize them to their needs in terms of their lifestyles. So they’re regularly sharing insight and comment on things which are good for them.
That’s playing out in terms of lifestyle and that's being brought into the business scenario, whereby the formal and informal hierarchies of organizations are blurring.
Another trend that I see, and a lot of our clients in the conversations that we have see, is this whole global talent contest, by which clients are struggling to maintain, obtain, and keep satisfied Generation Next with the latest technology. Why should they legitimately step back in time in the tools that they will use in their role, if it doesn’t provide and support their last stop. It’s a real challenge for them.
Gardner: Michael Swindell, when we see longer term trends, and then new innovations, one of those trends has been the need to rationalize applications. Almost every enterprise I talk to rarely knows how many applications they have, rarely knows to what degree they’re being used, and has no clue as to how to sunset them or bring this sprawl under control. It seems that that’s a long-term trend trying to rationalize apps, but at the app store model, innovation brings some sanity to that and buy-ins from the users.
Is there a win-win possibility here with app stores helping organizations manage their apps better, and yet, getting the buy-in from the users to accelerate how that goes about by them voting and either installing and uninstalling these apps rather rapidly?
Swindell: There are really two sides to the benefit of using the app store methodology for those problems. There's an organizational side of understanding application usage, as you said maybe sunsetting applications, understanding how applications are used within their organization, so that they can make good decisions.
Then we have the user side, where users have a lot more information that they can provide that’s very useful for both the organization and other users.
The app store metaphor works very well in sharing that type of information. It gives the organization usage information and statistics, and the demand information that's valuable for the organization to plan and understand their application usage. It also provides information to other users on the applicability of applications for certain scenarios, whether applications are good or bad for a particular scenario.
This has worked well in the mobile space with public app stores, and we see that there's a lot of applicability inside the firewall, inside organizations, to be able to use this information and create more value out of their applications and to help users get more value and understanding about their applications.
Gardner: Tony, back to you. In your white paper, it seems that there's an economic value here, that we're just sort of scratching the surface of. It seems that we know that the consumers like app stores, based on how they vote with their dollars, whether it's $0.99 or more. It’s just a huge success for Apple and others are jumping on the bandwagon.
But it seems to me that getting the transparency, seeing the trends, and being able to sunset and better manage their apps has got a fairly significant economic value to it. Furthermore, users perhaps will only be using resources based on their needs. So there is sort of an efficiency aspect to this. Is that what you've found?
Baer: We've not done any scientific studies, but compare this model to the traditional application deployment model.
Number one, it's a much more of a long-fused process. There is elaborate planning of the rollout. You're trying to figure out all the different client targets that you're trying to address. Even if you do have locked-down machines, you're still going to have issues. Then, package the release,. Then, regression test it to death. Then distribution, and you actually get the thing installed. Hopefully, it's up during some off hour, let's say, at 3 a.m. Then, you prepare for all the support calls.
That's a pretty involved process. That consumes a lot of time both for the end user, who is waiting for the functionality that he or she may want -- or not. And it's also, of course, a considerable overhead in the IT organization.
If you take that all away into a more modular model, more like a radio broadcast model, essentially it becomes a lot more efficient. You lose all this lead time, and as Michael was talking about, you then get all the visibility for all these apps being consumed. End users have more sway. As long as they are authorized to use these apps, they have this choice.
So it's not that all of a sudden they have a whole number of apps that are loaded on their machine, whether they like it or not. We haven't done anything to quantify this, because trying to quantify productivity is like asking “what's the cost of downtime?” And in a lot of sectors that can be a very subjective number. But intuitively, this model, if it scales out, should basically provide a much lower cost of ownership and much greater satisfaction.
Gardner: Richard, in your looking over the landscape for additional innovations, I can see how services orientation and cloud computing certainly dovetail with this, but it also seems to me that the need is for organizations to encourage users to change their habits. Maybe it's around the process level, instead of an application level or maybe simply adopting new applications quickly, rather than having to go through a long period of adjustment.
Is there something about the app store model that you think will encourage faster buy-in and perhaps a lot of organizations would incentivize or use social mechanisms to encourage users to adopt new technologies and new applications faster?
Copland: Undoubtedly. The whole socialization and the social trend which I see as probably the biggest driver behind this is for the way in which people use software and the way in which people comment on a software.
The organization will cluster around the toolkits for which the feedback from the users is positive. I can think of one large global financial organization here that has 5,000 apps within their world. They would look to simplify their landscape by over 60 percent, because they recognize that they've got so many kinds of individual pockets of activity going on in the organization.
And you need to support those individual pockets of activity that, in terms of your users in the tail effect, they’ll be the mainstream enterprise apps, such as Windows-based or Office-based, which the majority will use. But if you could tap into an environment, in which you are giving the people what they want, then the return on investment (ROI) from that is going to be a lot faster.
Gardner: We’ve certainly seen how the incentive is there from a cultural and popularity perspective, given what we’ve seen in the mobile space. There's a strong economic and productivity rationale for this in terms of both long-term IT trends, like rationalizing applications, and shorter-term trends, like incentivizing people to use the social mechanisms and adopt newer applications or processes or methods faster.
Now the question is: how do you do this? How do you take a legacy of hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of applications written for the PC, written across different platforms and different iterations over time and maturity levels of those platforms, and make them available through an app store?
Michael Swindell, tell me a little bit about AppWave and what it takes for an IT organization to make the transition from that long process that Tony outlined to a more streamlined app-store approach.
Swindell: The best way to describe AppWave is that it’s just a pretty simple three-step process. The first step is taking traditional software, which is traditionally complex for end users and for organizations to manage. This includes things like installations, un-installations, considerations about applications, of how they affect the users’ environment.
Then, converting those traditional software applications into the concept of apps where they are self-contained, don’t require installation, can be streamed and run to a user anywhere they are, and really delivering the mobile-like experience of mobile software to the more complex traditional desktop PC software.
AppWave has tooling that allows users to take their applications and convert them into apps. And that’s any type of application -- commercial application or internally developed.
That's the first step. The second is to centralize those apps in an app store, where users can get to them, and where organizations can have visibility into their usage, manage access to them, etc. So the second step is simply centralizing those apps.
The third is the user experience. One of the key drivers behind the success of apps in the mobile space has been the visibility that users have into application availability. It’s very easy for users to search and find an app as they need it.
Think about how a user uses a mobile phone to come up with an app. Maybe they’re walking down the street, they see a business, and they have an idea, or they want directions to something. They can simply search in an app store on their mobile device and immediately get an app to solve that problem.
If you look in the business space and inside the workplace, when a user has a problem, they don’t really have a mechanism to sit down and search to solve a problem and then get an application to solve it immediately.
As we talked about earlier, and Tony really well-described that the process, once they identify an application to solve a problem, that can take weeks or months to roll out. so you don’t have that instant feedback.
The user experience has to be instantaneous. An area that we focused on very heavily with AppWave is to provide the users an ability to search, find apps based on the problems that they’re trying to solve, and instantly run those apps, rather than having to go through a long process.
Gardner: Michael, I’d like to hear more about how you go about that. But before we do, let me check in with our other panelists.
Tony, this sounds like it’s something quite new. As you pointed out, in the past and for the most part, in the present, in an enterprise, a user might have a need, wish they had a tool, a utility, a macro, any kind of a helping hand. Rather than go to IT and wait in line, sign some sort of a requisition, or go through a PO process, they probably just said, "Oh, the heck with it. I'll make do with what I have."
But now, we're giving people the opportunity to self-serve, search in the moment of need, and then satisfy that need with the click of a button. It sounds to me that it’s going to really enhance user productivity, the user's ability to innovate themselves, rather than just sit back and go with the flow. Am I overstating it?
Baer: From the end-user standpoint, there certainly is quite a win to this. But we also have to look at the fact that this is going to change the way IT serves the organization. At least this aspect of it is really going to become more of a service provider. And there are a lot of implications for that.
For one thing, IT has to be more responsive but they also have to work on more of a shorter fuse, almost like a just-in-time type of model.
That being said, there's no free lunch in all this, and it still requires management. For example, we still need to worry about dealing with security governance, managing consumption, and also making sure that you lock down, or secure the licensing issues. As I said, there’s no free lunch, but compare that to the overhead of the traditional application distribution and deployment process.
So again, from the end user standpoint, it should be a win-win, but from the IT standpoint, it's going to mean a number of changes. Also, this is breaking new ground with a number of the vendors. What they need to do is check on things such as licensing issues, because what you're really talking about is a more flexible deployment policy.
Long-term, it's definitely a win-win. Short-term, there are adjustments to be made by IT and also by the software industry.
Gardner: Just as a quick observation, managing licenses is so difficult. Many organizations will just pay a blanket fee, not even bother to audit, or do anything they can to avoid the vendor audit. With the app-store approach, they would have real data, know exactly who is using what, and pay only what they had to. So I think that there's a hurdle to adjust to on the licensing, but there might actually be a strong benefit.
Changing the dynamic
Back to Richard Copland. On this notion that users, when empowered to download and find apps based on search, based on the library, based on what other users are passing along as what’s worked for them as users in the organization, it strikes me as really changing the dynamic itself.
Do you follow my thread on this? Do you think I'm going too far, and can we perhaps make the association that app stores can fundamentally change the way workers behave in an innovation sense?
Copland: Absolutely. You’re on the money with regard the direction of travel. We talked a little bit about looking at the mobile aspects of it and moving to this on-demand usage and the challenges for the organization to do that.
Certainly, the components within the AppWave solution give you the opportunity to move to more of what I would describe as smart working or remote working, by which the user doesn't necessarily have to come into the office to access the tools, which are traditionally being provided to them at their desk in their environment.
If you start remote working or are given a broader range of remote access, then you can be operating a much stronger work-life balance. So if you're in a situation where you’ve got a young family and you need to take the kids to school, you can come on and go off the company network and use the tools which are provided to you in a much more user-friendly flexible environment. That would be certainly from the user's perspective.
From the business’s perspective, I start moving to a scenario where I don't necessarily need to maintain a real estate where if I’ve got 5,000 users, I need to have 5,000 desks. That certainly becomes quite empowering across the rest of the organization, and other stakeholders -- the facility’s officers, business managers -- start taking real notice of those types of savings and the nature of how work is achieved.
Gardner: Back to how this can work for organizations. Michael Swindell at Embarcadero, tell me about AppWave, and let's learn a bit about its heritage. It seems to me that this has been something that's not just a flash in the pan new for you. It's really an evolution of something you've been doing in the application development arena with tools. So perhaps it's time to learn a little bit about the legacy and history of how AppWave has evolved?
Swindell: This is the AppWave 2.0 platform, which is really the second generation of the platform. The original 1.0 platform was designed to help deliver Embarcadero's own products to its users. And the reason it was developed was that Embarcadero, as many ISVs have, has a portfolio of different products, over 20 tools in our portfolio. We wanted to provide those to customers so that they were much easier for the users to find and use the applications as they had a need.
As a problem arises, you didn't have to worry about whether or not software is already installed or whether or not you have it. You simply need to be able to search on the problem and then be able to pull up the Embarcadero application to solve that problem.
The first generation of this technology was designed specifically for those 20 products. We created app versions of our software. Then came the idea of the centralized app store and the user experience to search, find, and run those apps.
Gardner: This is fairly proven. How long this has been in use in terms of a technology and a platform itself?
Swindell: Two years for the platform. Then, the licensing core, which is really an important part. We talked a little bit about earlier about how license management is important in access control. The license core that provides both licensing and access control has actually been around for quite some time and managed the licenses. We've been developing the licensing technology for almost 10 years.
Gardner: So you're taking this and focusing it beyond that core 2.0 that you started with. Now we're looking at what custom apps, legacy apps, cross platform, what is it that an enterprise was interested in moving in an app store direction, and they are going to examine something like AppWave. How far and why can this be applicable in terms of their legacy, their installed base of apps?
Swindell: Our vision is any type of application in the organization will eventually be supported by AppWave. The initial support is for PC apps in organizations, which is the vast majority of productivity applications that end users need. It also is where the largest problem set is, both from an end-user perspective and from an organization's perspective.
So we're tackling the hardest problem first and then our plan is to roll in other type of apps, web apps, and applications that you might be using in an organization, using other types of delivery technologies.
But the idea is to take any type of these applications and present them as an app inside the AppWave ecosystem. So a user can have a centralized way to search for any type of app whether it’s a corporate HR, a web application, a hosted software as a service (SaaS ) application, or a PC application. Certainly, mobile would be an obvious direction as well.
Gardner: It seems that we’re also moving now to being able to manage our applications, not just in their entirety and in their traditional state, but perhaps even decomposing them and getting into more of a modular applications transformation benefit.
Tell me how the companies that you’re working with that are using AppWave are using this, not only to just repurpose existing apps, but to even transform those apps and present them in new and interesting ways.
Swindell: There's a variety of ways that organizations are delivering applications to users today. The wider variety of applications and different ways and repositories that they have for apps really makes it confusing for end users to be able to know where to find what applications are available.
When I talk to end users and to customers, if you ask them where they find their applications, you’ll get a different answer, depending on who you talk to in the organization or what type of application they’re thinking of.
One of the things that AppWave and the app store concept can do is to help create a centralized app view of the different types of applications and even the different types of services in your organization, and to be able to understand what’s available.
There are also opportunities for the same types of socialization and sharing of information and knowledge about services using the app store concept, as there is with apps.
The important thing is to take these different types of applications and present them in a common way in the same place, so that it really doesn’t matter whether the app is a web app or it’s a PC app. Users can find them, run them, and share information about them at the same place.
Gardner: Just to be clear, your technology allows for not only ISV-packaged apps, but also custom apps designed for your organization, by your organization. These can now also be brought into this corral more of a common denominator of all sorts of apps. Is that correct?
Swindell: Correct. And those apps can be comprised of a variety of different services, different types of technologies, but they’re presented to the end user in the same way as a Windows app or a Web app.
Gardner: Is there an additional technical benefit here in terms of sometimes what we see with SaaS and multitenancy in that the patching and the security and management of that application can be conducted centrally. Then, each time the user brings it down from the store, for example, he gets a fresh updated version. Is there a lifecycle benefit to how apps are managed as part and parcel with this?
Swindell: It makes it a lot easier for end users, because they don’t have to think about it. When they log into their app store environment, updates are automatic, and it’s also very visible. They can see what’s happening very similar to into a mobile device. You always know when there are updates available because you get an icon that tells you how many updates are available.
There's an additional benefit, especially with software modularization and compatibility between different versions, that AppWave can provide. By compartmentalizing applications, it allows apps to run side-by-side across multiple versions.
So some applications or some data may be dependent on a particular version of an app or an application. By using apps and AppWave, you can roll back three versions and open that up without having to install it, find it, or anything. So the isolation and the idea of apps can really help in that regard.
Gardner: Richard Copland, as someone who is out there hunting down innovations that they can bring to their user organization and their clients, was there anything about AppWave or app stores in general for enterprise use that was interesting and attractive to you that we perhaps haven’t hit on yet?
Copland: In AppWave and the Embarcadero team, we have a global innovation venture partner program. They were our recent winner. They went up against competition from around the world. We believe that the app store concept has got so much within it in terms of the user experience, the socialization aspects, and the collaboration aspects of it.
The area which we haven't touched on so much is that it's a bridging point between your legacy systems and your more visionary cloud-type solutions where you really are SaaS, on-demand and pay-per-click.
Gardner: I guess on-demand isn't so much concerned with where the app resides and how it's delivered across the wire, but really with the notion of organizations being able to allow their users to go into a process, find a solution, apply it, and even create new types of innovative work and workflows. It's really about choice, freedom and applicability rapidly, rather than over a long time that is the actual benefit around on-demand.
Copland: The thing that will kill innovation is just operating slowly. One of the biggest blockers that organizations face with regard to innovation is the nature of how that sets out and the speed at which they react to what are their internal ideas.
Swindell: You can look at this as being in a way -- and Dana and Richard you're hinting on that -- a cultural preparation for transition to the cloud, if indeed the cloud is suitable for specific parts of your application portfolio.
Gardner: Michael Swindell, for those organizations that are looking at cloud but are bit nervous and see some risk and lack of governance security control, is there something about app store that makes that bridging effect that Richard was alluding to, but in a way that is more enterprise ready. That is, something that gives command and control in terms of access, privilege, governance and management but also fosters that innovation and freedom.
Swindell: It certainly is a way of operating that's very attractive, that there's a lot of interest in, and has a lot of obvious benefits. But there's also concern around the areas that you bring up. Having an on-premise private app store that runs within your organization that is on site really addresses a lot of those concerns and uses the cloud simply to deliver new applications and apps from ISVs and from other vendors.
Once they are inside your organization, they're operating within your security and governance environment. So you don't really have to worry about those concerns, but it still delivers a lot of the benefits of the user experience of cloud and the on-demand nature.
Gardner: I know this is going a little bit out further into the future and perhaps into the hypothetical. It sounds as if you can effectively use this app store model and technology and approach like AppWave to be a gateway for your internal PC apps, but that same gateway might then be applicable for all these other services.
But if the gateway app store model works for a class of apps, it might work for all apps. It really could be a governance and management capability well beyond just the ability to package and deliver apps in this fashion. What are your thoughts on that, Michael?
Driven by demand
Swindell: The foundation is there, and I think it will be demand driven by users. Every time we talk to a customer with AppWave, the list of possibilities and where customers want to use and take the environment is exciting, and the list continues to grow on how they can use it in the long-term.
So we're building facilities today to connect the private AppWaves into our cloud infrastructure, so that we can deliver certainly apps but there could be other types of services that connect into that as well.
Gardner: Okay, and just to be clear. AppWave is available now. I believe we have a 30-day free trial, is that correct?
Swindell: Yes, there is a free trial, and we also offer free version of AppWave that organizations can download and use today with free apps. There's an entire catalog of free apps that are included and are streamed down from our cloud.
So you can get set up and started with AppWave, using free apps in your organization. What can be added then is your own internal custom apps or commercial licenses that organizations have. So if you've hundreds of commercial licenses, you can add those in or add your own internally developed apps.
Gardner: Very good, and where would one go to find out more about this?
Swindell: You can go to www.embarcadero.com/appwave and try it for free.
Gardner: Very good. I'm afraid we're out of time. You've been listening to a sponsored podcast discussion on how enterprise app stores are quickly creating productivity and speed-to-value benefits for PC users and IT departments of like. I’d like to thank our guests: Tony Baer, Principal Analyst at Ovum. Thank you so much, Tony.
Baer: Thanks, Dana.
Gardner: We've also been here with Michael Swindell, Senior Vice President of Products and Marketing for Embarcadero Technologies. Thank you, Michael.
Swindell: Thanks, Dana. It was a pleasure.
Gardner: And Richard Copland, Principal Innovation Consultant at Logica. Thanks so much, Richard.
Copland: Cheers, Dana. Cheers, guys.
Gardner: This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions. As always, thanks for listening and come back next time.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: Embarcadero.
Transcript of a sponsored podcast discussion on the growing importance of enterprise app stores in moving organizations to a self-service model that reduces both complexity and delays in getting applications to end users. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2011. All rights reserved.
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