Apperian Readying “Enterprise App Store” for iPhones and iPads

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device management. You’re seeing companies like Trust Digital and Mobile Iron focus on that, but no one has really focused specifically on the best-practice app store environment. That’s why we have chosen to focus in on internal business app stores.

X: What does EASE do, exactly?

CG: EASE does two things. It makes it easy for IT [departments] to create, deploy, and manage mobile applications on the iPhone, and next on Android. The second thing is that it gives end users that familiar experience that they have with the App Store. Apple has proven that the App Store model for mobile distribution is the right model. We see EASE as the best of both worlds—tools for IT, and empowering the mobile user with a familiar interface and an authorized way to get access to in-house apps that they need for their business.

X: Okay, talk about each one of those things in turn. First of all, creating in-house iPhone applications. Why can’t enterprise developers do this using Apple’s existing iPhone software development kit (SDK)?

CG: Apple gives you a pretty robust SDK. However, the tools to connect to enterprise data aren’t there. So there is still a lot of custom database connectivity that needs to be built. Whether you have Oracle or Sybase or your database is Web-enabled through XML or JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), we give you connectors to connect to your enterprise data. We also give you a social media kit, so that if you want to seamlessly pull in Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, we have enabled those. Plus there is no reporting or analytics built into Apple’s SDK, so we are building an analytics engine meant for enterprise IT.

We also have a way to show videos, so that before people can even have access to the “install” button, they have to watch the video or answer questions correctly. That way companies can say that everybody who downloads a mobile app has been trained on the content. So the Apperian SDK—or what we call the Apperian App Kit, to avoid confusion with the iPhone SDK—-will give enterprise app developers the ability to include things like advanced database connectors, advanced reporting and analytics, and training modules.

X: So you still need to be a real iPhone developer and understand the iPhone SDK to build apps with the Apperian App Kit.

CG: It’s not one of these drag-and-drop, create-your-own-enterprise-app things. You still need to use the Apple SDK. But we’ll give you enterprise tools that sit on top of the Apple SDK to make the apps more robust and more manageable.

X: What about the app store part? Consumers can only get apps onto the iPhone through the iTunes App Store, unless they jailbreak their phones. I’m assuming that’s not what you’re talking about. So how did you persuade Apple to let you set up separate enterprise app stores?

CG: We’re not literally building a parallel app store to Apple’s App Store. There are actually three ways to deploy an iPhone app. There’s ad hoc deployment of up to 100 users, which is the method used by developers and is used mostly for testing. The second way is called … Next Page »

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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