Apple’s concept of the App Store works well for consumers. Search for whatever apps you want or need and buy or download them with one-click shopping in iTunes of the App Store app on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. That system starts to break down when it comes to iOS devices in the workplace, particularly for companies that create internal apps that need to be rolled out to a large number of users. It can become even more complicated when dealing with employee-owned devices because IT may never see the iPhone or iPads that are being used and therefore need a specific set of apps.
The best option for addressing this need is the concept of an enterprise app store – an app that users can install from a central location on their corporate network that will allow them to peruse a selection of apps developed by their company’s IT department as well as business apps from Apple’s App Store.
The enterprise app store concept has been included in many mobile device manage (MDM) consoles that support iOS. These consoles plug into the management capabilities that Apple has offered since iOS 4 and can provision devices with security credentials as well as configure settings and restrict features for various security reasons.
MDM options are a great solution, but their licensing costs can be prohibitive to some small compnies and may include feature sets beyond what an organization needs. For companies that fall into this category, including those using the basic MDM capabilities of the Profile Manager feature in Lion Server, App47 can be a solution.
App47 isn’t an MDM provider. The company’s focus is providing mobile app management – getting apps onto the iPhones and iPads of users. Put another way, the company’s focus is on creating enterprise app stores. App47 also helps compile usage data for the apps that it helps distribute.
App47 allows companies to include their internal apps as well as curate a selection of apps from Apple’s App Store – a useful feature for organizations that use specific business tools.
App47 this week announced that it will be offering a free cloud-based service known as its Developer Edition. The Developer Edition is focused on getting apps onto user devices and determining information about their use and looks like an excellent companion to Lion Server’s Profile Manager for smaller organizations.
For organizations interested in App47 that need more management options, the company offers and Enterprise Edition. This edition of App47 can be hosted inside a corporate network, can manage which apps are available to specific users and groups, includes monitoring and activity analysis features, and can push out updates on the fly. It also offers 24/7 tech support.
At a time when vendors seem to be putting everything but the kitchen sink into their enterprise solutions (managing iOS devices and other mobile platforms, managing Macs, deploying software to desktop and mobile devices, and other backend IT functions like asset management), App47’s single function focus is unique and allows it to pair with other solutions or be a stand alone product if advanced device managed isn’t needed or desired.