Q: What is EASE?
Apperian’s EASE (“Enterprise App Services Environment”) is very, very cool. It provides organizations with the ability to create secure and manageable apps, and then distribute, update, monitor, and provision them across a workforce.
The primary use of EASE is to empower enterprise developers to easily create secure apps, and enterprise IT staff to manage “in-house” app development and distribution. Users get a familiar application interface from which to choose applications, view additional information, and access app-related training materials.
Another use of EASE is to enable developers during the develop-and-test cycle. EASE can greatly simplify the process of getting apps and updates to “test users”, making sure that users have the latest versions, and managing the ad-hoc provisioning profile process.
Q: Is this an “Enterprise App Store”?
Strictly speaking, it’s not an “App Store” since apps are not “for sale”. Rather, the apps included are created by the enterprise for use by their own employees and contractors, and EASE provides a safe, branded and managed way to make these apps available.
EASE provides two flavors of an App Catalog: an HTML5 version that works on iOS, Android and Blackberry, and native app catalogs for iOS and Android. The native app catalogs are fully customized. If you are an Apple customer who has licensed the IOS Developer Enterprise Program you can create a fully customized, native app for delivering in-house apps. Android customers can also create customized, native apps without the need for any additional licensing.
Note that the term “Enterprise App Store” is commonly used in the industry. Apple has requested to trademark the phrase App Store, but this is being opposed by several companies, including Microsoft (see Microsoft Fights Apple’s Attempt To Trademark ‘App Store’).
Q: Why do I need EASE?
The need for EASE is driven by enterprise developers who are building “in house” apps for their organizations. Programs such as Apple’s iOS Enterprise Developer Program have made this easier (and this program is now open to any sized company).
Companies are starting to create multiple iOS and Android apps that need to be rolled out to their organizations, and realize that they need help to create these apps, deploy them to hundreds (or thousands) of employees, and manage and monitor the process.
Q: How can EASE make a difference for Enterprise Developers — those developing “in-house” apps?
If you are developing a single app, or already deploying multiple apps, you know the challenge of deploying apps to hundreds or thousands of employees.
Before EASE, the only alternative for companies was to create a “do it yourself” solution to manage the distribution, updating, and delivery of apps to users. This can take significant development and ongoing support resources. In addition, the largely manual processes of getting apps to users weighs down the IT and helpdesk.
Apperian is dedicated to providing a “complete solution” for enterprise customers that is supported, uses high-performance hosted services and content delivery networks for app downloads, and allows enterprises to focus on developing business-focused apps, and not infrastructure.
Q: How can EASE make a difference for Standard Developers — those developing for the AppStore?
Currently, the develop-and-test cycle involves sending application files (e.g., IPA files) and mobile provisioning files to test users. This process includes getting user’s UDID, adding them to the profile, and then creating new versions of the application and mobile provisioning file.
EASE helps developers look professional, and interact with their users and customers in a way which makes the entire process awfully smooth. EASE simplifies the process of getting apps and updates to users, ensures that they have the latest version, and helps manages the ad-hoc provisioning profile process. For example, the EASE Administrative dashboard verifies that a user has access to a build before a user attempts to download or use it.
When users install AppRamp, they will see a developer-branded version of Catalog with a listing of the apps that are specifically available to the user.
Developers can include app descriptions, screen shots, documentation, videos, and can receive feedback directly from users via AppRamp.
Q: How does EASE help me create applications?
EASE “fills the gap” for enterprises by providing a “Framework” extending the Apple SDK with critical enterprise functionality.
EASE adds to the Apple SDK by providing support in the areas of authorization, authentication, version checking, and push notification.
Additional capabilities, such as access to corporate back-end data will be added to the SDK in future releases.
Q: Are you developing a solution for Blackberry, HTML5, Windows or other mobile platforms?
EASE is currently targeted for iOS devices (iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad) and Android (phones and tablets) with full native support. We also support an HTML5 App Catalog, and Blackberry using HTML5. We are considering Windows Mobile and other platforms.
Q: Why should Enterprises develop in-house apps?
Leading-edge companies have realized the value of “business to employee” (b-to-e) or “business to worker” apps as a way to increase productivity and revenue.
The consumerization of IT has led users within all types of organizations — from Fortune 1000 to government and non-profit — to realize that they could achieve much more than the basic email and calendar.
We have seen great smartphone enterprise deployments in the biotech, health, retail, and government segments. We expect all organizations to begin a program of developing in-house apps as they realize the leverage of having their employees connected to mission-critical processes, data, and ways to communicate and share data.