Software provider 1E is known for its energy and cost-saving products—not exactly what comes to mind when thinking about consumerization. However 1E’s corporate app store product, called Shopping, is consumerization-friendly in two ways: it enables self service provisioning for Windows applications; and self service for identity management, where actual client applications become irrelevant.
We talk about app stores for mobile devices, but for any other apps, the reality of getting applications and permissions involves a helpdesk ticket—always a slower process than clicking “install” in an app store. Instead, Shopping allows users to bypass the helpdesk for those many situations where it’s overkill—approval flows are streamlined or simply automated completely.
Shopping uses System Center Configuration Manager to deploy traditional Windows applications, but where it gets more interesting is with the ability to change users’ roles in Active Directory. This can mean that a virtual application is added automatically or instantly, or it can not involve any applications at all. How? If a user is added to a group that gives them some sort of access to a SaaS product, for example, the client application is a much less important consideration. The user can download a client for whatever platform or type of device they happen to be using on their own. This represents a model that’s much more identity dependant than local application dependant—once a user has access to a service, who cares whether they use a Windows app, web app, or mobile app to access it?
Another interesting feature of Shopping is that it can be used with SCCM to do user-initiated OS upgrades. These days, migrating from XP to Windows 7 is probably not on the front of very many users’ minds, but for organizations where that transition is still taking place, self service migration is an attractive idea, even if by this point it’s impact in this situation is largely anecdotal.
License management is another big component of Shopping as well as 1E’s related product, AppClarity. AppClarity is a typical software asset management product, which runs audits to find unused software licenses that can be re-assigned. The is that if users know they can use Shopping to get an application back whenever they want, they’ll be more willing to let IT use AppClarity to “take away” their unused applications and redistribute the license.
Shopping was created in 2005, before app stores as we know them existed. As a result, the experience is more Amazon than Apple App Store—there are shopping carts and a checkout page—concepts that seem a bit out of date. And of course there is a huge array of “portal” products competing with 1E, both on the identity and application management fronts. However, 1E Shopping and similar products show us yet again that the user-initiated model of service (even for OS migrations!) is more than just a fad that came along with Apple, and instead now a vital part of end-user computing.