Channeling the Cloud

Boom Times for Cloud-Based App Marketplaces

Partners would be ill-advised to ignore the growing popularity of app stores.

Application stores and marketplaces are becoming a popular means of distributing software and cloud-based apps for PCs and mobile devices.

Made popular by Apple Inc. with the iTunes App Store, now it seems every major software and cloud provider has released one or has one in the works. App stores and marketplaces will be among market researcher Gartner Inc.'s top 10 strategic technologies for enterprises this year.

Gartner is predicting that app stores will facilitate 70 billion downloads of mobile apps per year by 2014. While it is primarily consumer-driven today, it will gain momentum for enterprise apps as well, according to Gartner. By 2015, Gartner is predicting 60 percent of organizations will have their own private app stores.

Looking to capitalize on that trend, several vendors are rolling out new platforms that enable partners and enterprises to develop their own cloud-based marketplaces. Among them are FullArmor and Partnerpedia.

FullArmor recently launched the AppPortal Marketplace, which allows enterprises, ISVs, solution providers, distributors and bandwidth providers such as telcos to create their own app stores. It's a cloud-based service that lets businesses that want to create their own app stores to provision and host them.

It provides the functions needed to create an app store or marketplace, including setup of storefronts and catalogs, checkout and billing, explains FullArmor CEO Rich Farrell. "It's a turnkey system," he says.

For enterprises, it provides a form of governance over the use of apps that can be procured through third-party app marketplaces, Farrell says. IT organizations have lost control over the procurement of such apps because many are free or low-cost, allowing end users to bypass IT.

That creates all sorts of issues ranging from system configuration management to security to licensing. The AppPortal Marketplace creates an app store that IT can configure themselves for employees to use, while providing a chargeback and tracking mechanism, according to Farrell.

For ISVs, resellers, distributors and telcos, the marketplace allows them to host their own stores or create them for their customers.

AppPortal Marketplace is currently hosted on the Microsoft Windows Azure platform, though FullArmor plans to support other cloud services including those provided by Inc., VMware Inc. and others, Farrell says.

The Partnerpedia Enterprise AppZone also lets both enterprises and partners establish turnkey marketplaces for mobile apps. In its announcement this past fall, Partnerpedia talked up the centrally controlled app vetting, publishing, distribution and management capabilities of Enterprise AppZone. It also offers security features such as virus detection, monitoring, policy management and the ability to perform remote wipes on devices.

Partners would be ill-advised to ignore the growing popularity of app stores.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.