CeBIT 2012: App Stores and Cloud Marketplaces Meet Business Applications

CeBIT 2012 kicks off tomorrow — and believe it or not, it’s still the world’s biggest IT show, attracting 339,000 visitors last year and very likely even more this year.

Cloud computing is all over the fair this year (again), but some vendors have managed to move beyond cloud infrastructure and are starting to combine the ease of use, standardization, and opex-based consumption with business software. I had the chance to talk to some vendors last week about their upcoming announcements. Forrester analyst Holger Kisker has already pointed it out in his 10 Cloud Predictions For 2012:

The Wild West of cloud procurement is over! More enterprises and SMBs than ever are discovering a formal strategy to purchase cloud services in 2012. The easiest consolidated way to do this is an app store or cloud marketplace.

Forrester has already published several reports about the potential of mobile app stores in the enterprise or the self-service benefits of app stores in the ERP space. What’s more, app stores have become the major go-to-market strategy for most emerging SaaS vendors and play a central role in emerging cloud business models such as the unified cloud broker concept. So, let’s see what’s coming up this week at CeBIT:

New Challengers:

Deutsche Telekom is actually the biggest surprise for business software this year in Germany. No, the former telco monopolist will not become a software vendor itself; there would be no real credibility for such a claim. However, Deutsche Telekom will complement its huge market share in Germany in small and medium-size businesses with a new SMB marketplace ecosystem. SMBs will be able to subscribe to SaaS applications out of a larger number of Deutsche Telekom’s new business software partners in a fully functional app store. Trusted infrastructure, reliable network bandwidth, and consolidated billing are just some of the obvious value-adds from a customer perspective. Nevertheless, ultimate success will really depend on the number and diversity of ISVs buying into this platform and marketplace approach. Unlike other telco marketplaces, the Deutsche Telekom SMB marketplace ecosystem is based on the emerging open source cloud provider stack OpenStack.org. ISVs can therefore much more easily port solutions built for the Deutsche Telekom marketplace to other telcos’ infrastructure, as long as that infrastructure is also built on OpenStack — as is the case with AT&T

Moving up to medium-size and large enterprises, there is a suprising amount of momentum emanating from Fujitsu. While most cloud platforms are mainly attractive for new development, Fujitsu addresses the transformation of existing software solutions into SaaS applications. In additional to a multitenant infrastructure, a basic billing system, and subscriber management services, Fujitsu is launching its Business Solution Store this week. The technology stack is especially suitable for Java applications created in the post-cloud decade and will allow these “legacy” ISVs to embrace the SaaS business model with much less effort. Fujitsu also offers strategic consulting and transformation services provided by its partner Strategius. Medium-size ISVs in particular will value a fully functional marketplace that deploys their solutions in minutes into the mission-critical enterprise infrastructure of new customers.

SAP has been working on its marketplace around SAP BusinessByDesign for a while. However, the merged experience of mobile business applications for all SAP product lines and add-ons to SAP’s BusinessByDesign SaaS ERP now numbers 181 solutions. Some of these are just small additional reports for ByDesign, but others are pretty impressive industry solutions demonstrating a major bet of the first ISVs into this platform and its marketplace. Unlike the older SAP EcoHub, the new SAP Store is fully functional and can deploy solutions — similar to the competing AppExchange from salesforce.com — to an existing customer tenant within minutes. But SAP has gone further and added more enterprise-grade features, such as volume purchases and compatibility tests, that make sure that customers do not subscribe to conflicting add-ons. The SAP marketplace will also support corporate perspectives, allowing a group CIO to select a subset of solutions visible to all associated subsidiaries. SAP also runs some Q&A on each partner solution. Unfortunately, SAP has still not fully addressed a marketplace approach for the smaller companies around its BusinessOne product — and now it suddenly has competition from Deutsche Telekom!

The Incumbents:

Salesforce.com, with its App Exchange, is the incumbent of business app stores. 316 applications already run natively on the force.com platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and a large proportion of the 1,423 total apps in this business marketplace is closely integrated with force.com. Salesforce’s partner enablement team helps ISVs with consulting not only around technology, but also in the direction of the business model, pricing, and even the structure of a SaaS sales force. There is nothing really new about Saleforce’s marketplace at this year’s CeBIT, except that the number of solutions from Europe-based providers is slowly but steadily growing. In addition to the app exchange targeting businesspeople, the foundational PaaS Heroku, which Salesforce acquired, offers a marketplace of prebuilt components to developers with its add-on collection.

Speaking of developer marketplaces, an interesting app store of integration solutions must not be missing from my list. Pervasive Software’s Galaxy has this developer focus, has been available in beta since July 2011, and is now fully functional. Prepackaged integration solutions based on Pervasive’s integration stack can be used by tech-savvy businesspeople or developers to solve B2B integration scenarios in a very efficient manner.

The Laggards:

Apple’s iTunes is the original blueprint for most app stores and has managed to merge the consumer experience for purchases of music, video, games, mobile apps, and — since Apple’s OSX 10.7 Lion — also to desktop and laptop apps. Despite Apple’s leadership in consumer app stores, Apple is a disappointing laggard in terms of business app stores. The platform is not a channel for ISVs offering a SaaS business application. Imagine if you would be able to log into your favorite SaaS applications with your Apple ID and could charge it via iTunes! But, unfortunately, Apple does not have such an ecosystem.

Microsoft is pretty excited about private clouds, the public cloud infrastructure Azure, and the SaaS delivery of parts of its Office 365 suite. However, the purchasing experience is scattered. The Pinpoint Marketplace, which focuses on business applications, is still just a marketing catalog without any functionality, and it’s totally separate from the shop for mobile apps and from Microsoft’s Gaming Marketplace. This is not in sync with overall cloud engagement!

ATOS, HP, IBM, Oracle, Software AG, Tibco, and VMware have great potential in cloud services. Unfortunately, none of them has combined their outstanding platform offering with self-service app stores to turn their ecosystem into immediate customer value. CIOs should watch the emerging space of business app stores and challenge their preferred suppliers if they are in the group of laggards.

Finally, don’t miss my speech at Bitkom Cloud Computing World, which is part of CeBIT 2012, Hall 4, Booth A58, Thursday, March 8 at 11:40 am.

Have fun at CeBIT 2012!

PS: If I missed a major app store, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

Comments

Enterprise App Stores

Stefan, Cisco are a glaring omission with its AppHQ for Cius tablet...

AppHQ for Cisco's Cius

Thanks for the pointer, Keith,

yes, there are some business apps on https://marketplace.cisco.com/apphq/categories/1
but, is the store fully functional with self service subscription. Have you tried it?
I have not Cius and can do it.

Wondering is this is only a mobile store or a merged experience with subscriptions to other devices or SaaS accounts?

Stefan

Intel AppUp

Not sure if Intel AppUp falls under business applications category but an interesting move from Intel towards end user computing offering applications in cloud.

http://www.appup.com/index

Also, there are cloud providers like GNAX, who offers application stacks that can be run on VMWare vCloud Director powered cloud platform.

http://gnax.net/services/cloud_services/cloud_technology/cloud-computing...

AppUp and GNAX

Janakan,

I am not really seeing business application in AppUp. Maybe somebody can point me to one.

In contrast the gnax approach looks great. This is exactly what vmware's cloud foundry is currently missing. thanks for the pointer!

Stefan

Business App Stores

Stefan,
I enjoyed reading the articles but it prompted 2 questions:

1) Why isn't the Google Apps Marketplace mentioned. Or the Intuit Marketplace, the Zoho Marketplace, The NetSuite Marketplace. Yes they are add-ons marketplaces but with more apps and clients that most of the stores you mention in your article

2) Which functionality offered by these app stores are truly useful and needed by SMBs? SSO is a commodity. Provisioning and single billing is often seen as an overkill. Any insights you can share from a user view point?

GetApp.com is the largest vendor independent store for SMB SaaS business apps. It is a comprehensive marketing catalogue with a strong discovery engine. There are over 12000 business apps to choose from and similarly to mobile apps, being found is an issue for vendors and discovering the right app for their needs is the number one concern from SMBs according to our research.

Business App Stores

Christophe,

thanks for your comment.

1. Yes, the Google Marketplace offers an increasing number of apps. However, many are not running on Google's App Engine. So the experience of provisioning, metering and billing is not unified. Google need to be careful, that the marketplace will not retire into a simple marketing catalogue such as Microsoft's Pinnpoint. Btw. Microsoft realized the problem and is re-creating their marketplace for Azure from scratch.

2. SMB functionality: There are many business services such as consolidated billing, maybe even with you phone bill. Also the trust to an established player is key to get SMB's credibility. Right, technical features like SSO are simple, but still not given in many cases. More important on the technical side is the multi-tenant concept. This means not only isolation from other user's data, but it also means that multiple apps that a single business users subscribes together actually DO see each others data. If an SMB subscribes an small CRM and a Financial App, both should automatically share the customer records! This is a basic functionality customers expect from a modern PaaS.

Agree, GetApp.com is a great catalogue, but nothing else - no functionality, no PaaS behind it.

Hope this helps.

Stefan

Thanks Stefan for

Thanks Stefan for responding.

You say that about Google Apps Marketplace: " the experience of provisioning, metering and billing is not unified". That is correct and they recently announced that they would no move towards unified billing. I don't know the reason behind it, but I am not sure it is a "must have requirement" from SMBs, just "nice to have in my opinion.

I keep on thinking that SSO is a commodity that will soon be free and available for all the main apps very soon.

Good point on the benefits of multi tenant so multiple apps from a single business user do see each others data. But is that happening for all apps developed on the same PaaS. Are all apps developed on Force.com and available on AppExchange integrated? I don't think so. Although it is clearly an advantage for an integrated suite of apps from a single vendor, I am not sure this is a core feature of a business store.

I know that GetApp.com is"only" a great catalogue. But it helps SMBs finding the exact apps they need and it is a working source of leads to fill funnels.

Stay tuned though, the dev team is very busy and functionality is on its way!
Cheers
Christophe

Cisco Cius

Stefan, the reponse I recd from Cisco:

AppHQ became available in August 2011. It comes standard as a client app on every Cius shipped. The IT administrator, through Unified Communications Manager, when they register the Cius to this server, can also designate whether the Cius can access any store other than Cisco AppHQ.

For AppHQ Manager, which is the optional customer application center that encompasses both the ability for a customer to have their own store along with additional management and reporting capabilities (their store is hosted by Cisco), after the IT administrator sets it up, they then extend invites from through Manager to their employee base. They also specify domains (their dotcom) which are allowed access to their store provided the user is registered.

Users would typically use their email address as their ID’s. There is also a solution brochure you can point them to on www.cisco.com/go/apphq

Cheers Keith