Goodbye Disk, Hello World

01/05/2011 by Justin Edelstein
There are a few App Marketplaces worth mentioning including the Salesforce AppExchange, the Google App Marketplace, and even the Apple Apps Store that are changing the game for software sales and distribution.

As we often talk about on the CloudFocus Weekly podcast

App Marketplaces are taking over as distribution channels for applications. Think about the last time that you bought a software application on a disk and installed it on your computer. The last time I did that was with Microsoft Office, go figure it was a product out of Redmond. Aside from the dinosaur Office Suite I can't think of a time I needed anything but an internet connection and a license key to get started with an application. Of course I am not a "creative type" so I don't use high-end editing software but in reality not many other people do either, this is a select niche of users who need very focused applications. In the business world today many applications are productivity apps or communication apps which are used more broadly and by most any knowledge worker. In the world of cloud computing these apps are installed with clicks via an app marketplace as opposed to in the client server days when software was shipped to IT shops to be installed on servers and deployed across enterprise architectures. 

Apps Delivered in a Click

iTunes changed the way that music and entertainment is distributed to consumers. Like iTunes, App Marketplaces have changed the way consumers browse, test drive, and ultimately purchase software. The key here is that the App Marketplace is a fully integrated environment where going from the purchase phase to the deployment phase is generally as easy as clicking a few buttons and following a configuration guide. Scalable applications being delivered on an integrated and secure platform makes for game changing results. In the old world of Client Server computing an IT department would have to build out massive environments to test out new applications for integration, security, and scalability. Once an environment was built out they would configure the application for a use case or two all in a sandbox. Think about the time that was burned building out this environment just to throw it all away once they want to move the application to production. With App Marketplaces IT shops can click a few links to install apps into their cloud environments and deploy in a much more rapid fashion resulting in much better time to market and ROI. Not to say that you wouldn't want to install and test the new app in a sandbox but all the work you do is not wasted since it's the same version of the App that you would eventually install in your production environment therefore you can just push it over when it's configured and you are ready to roll.

Wisdom of the Crowds

 Another secret sauce that App Marketplaces have borrowed from the consumer web is Ratings and Reviews. Much like

uses customer ratings and reviews to help other customer's make informed decisions, so do the App Marketplaces for cloud apps. Just use intuitive searching tools to look for the type of application you need and read about what other customer's experiences have been like. If you read that an application has a bad rating and has a few bad reviews you are likely to skip over that one and go to the next one - a really easy way to get to the best option for you. You like what you read and a few clicks later you are off and running with a test drive. A real-time playground for you to see what the functionality of the application is like with your own two eyes all without having to stand-up a server and test integration capabilities. 

Risks and Rewards

Thusfar I have taken the very positive view that the App Marketplace is a revolutionary new way to distribute and install software (or services). In reality there are some risks that should be considered whenever you are looking to use a service from one of the aforementioned marketplaces. For example, if you have very stringent security requirements and have already vetted for example as a platform for use by your company then using an AppExchange product that keeps all of your data within the

platform is absolutely fine, but, if the application you are installing is sending data to their own server farm then you must consider the security ramifications of having your data flow to a service that you haven't yet given the stamp of approval to. It's all about how you weigh out the risk and reward, the reward is obviously faster implementation and integration, the risks are data security and potential of using a service that isn't up to snuff with your standards. Always be aware of where your data is residing and make sure that it meets your documented standards.

If you want to discuss App Marketplaces with me further feel free to comment on this post on our Facebook Page or tweet me at