Why enterprise app stores are a threat to traditional software vendors

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The growth of enterprise app stores could pose a threat to Windows and legacy enterprise apps.

A Gartner report released this week predicts that by 2017, 25 percent of enterprises will have enterprise app stores where workers can browse and download apps to their computers and mobile devices.

IT departments are interested in offering app stores for a number of reasons, including because they offer an easier way to distribute apps to end users. Rather than configuring laptops with corporate apps or pushing out mobile apps, IT can simply point users to the store and instruct them to download any of the apps in it. IT admins may also see app stores as a way to encourage workers to stick with using approved apps.

Citrix, which offers its Cloud Gateway product that serves as an app store, told CITEworld that forward-thinking companies are adding a wide range of apps, like Evernote and Box, to their stores. But that could be a threat to traditional vendors who have long dominated the enterprise.

“Progressive organizations are putting everything in there,” said Natalie Lambert, Citrix director of product management. “Windows apps to SAP to all of the new native mobile apps. Where they’re going to get the most bang for the buck is if, as an employee, anything I need to get my job done is there.”

She believes that workers will spend less time using legacy applications, including Windows apps, in favor of the new breed of apps that will be easily accessible from their enterprise app stores. She cites IDC research showing that usage of SaaS and mobile apps will increase 200 percent by 2015.

That growth of SaaS and mobile apps comes “to some extent at the expense of Windows and data center apps because organizations recognize the need to provide access to them,” said Lambert.

Enterprise app stores not only ease distribution and can also cut software licensing costs -- IT can better monitor the use of apps via the stores, which can help it negotiate better deals. In addition, IT can make certain apps available only to groups that need them, so workers don't load up on expensive apps that aren't strictly necessary for their jobs.

But these benefits will only come if enterprise app stores have the apps users want.

“Without a dynamic selection of apps to choose from, users will eventually have little reason to continue to visit an enterprise app store,” according to the Gartner report.

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