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Now You, Too, Can Build an App Marketplace

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 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 the top 10 strategic technologies for enterprises next year, according to a forecast released by Gartner last week.

The market researcher 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.

"With enterprise app stores, the role of IT shifts from that of a centralized planner to a market manager providing governance and brokerage services to users and potentially an ecosystem to support entrepreneurs," according to the Gartner report. "Enterprises should use a managed diversity approach to focus on app store efforts and segment apps by risk and value."

Looking to capitalize on that trend, FullArmor on Wednesday launched the AppPortal Marketplace, which allows enterprises, ISVs, solution providers, distributors and bandwidth providers such as telcos to create their own application stores. It is a cloud-based service that lets those who 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, explained FullArmor CEO Rich Farrell. "It's a turnkey system," he said.

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

That creates all sorts of issues ranging from system configuration management, security and 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. The starting price is $50,000 but costs are determined based on the number of apps that are in the marketplace and how many systems need to be integrated.

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

It is likely FullArmor will aim to sell this platform to a larger vendor. The company's business model is that of an incubator. Among the technologies it has developed and sold off are Group Policy Administrator, acquired by NetIQ; Workflow Studio, an IT automation tool that Citrix bought; and Mail Portal Migrator, a tool for moving in-house Exchange-based systems to the cloud, which Quest Software picked up last year.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 10/27/2011 at 1:14 PM


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