Friday, January 7, 2011

App Stores

Amazon, Google and Apple cloud services are pursuing a new approach for delivery of applications to customers. Application Store Developer programs enable the downloading of pre-tested applications to desktops, laptops or hand-held device. In this way even individual developers can design and then start marketing apps to tens of millions of customers.

The entire App Store concept is based on making use of the reliable infrastructures of Amazon, Google and Apple. Developers can benefit from services offered by the various App Stores. Technical tools, inclusive of application development methods, are offered from a proprietary portal. Apps are instantly delivered to customers using convenient self-service account management tools. There were 500,000 Google Apps, 600,000 Apple Apps and 1,000 Amazon Apps.

The sheer number of apps available today makes it hard for customers to find high-quality, relevant products – and developers similarly struggle to get their apps noticed. Each App Store has merchandising features designed to help customers find and discover relevant products from a vast selection of readily available pre-tested programs.

It costs developers only $25/year to participate in Amazon’s program. Google costs $90/year. Typically, the cloud vendor will instantly pay the developer 70% of the list price of an app.

For instance, the Google Apps Marketplace offers products that have been reviewed both by Google as well as by customers with ranked ratings shown for each app. A full text of reviews by users is included along with detailed specifications and features listed.  The prices for the apps range from no-cost offerings to very modest annual subscriptions. Apps can be either downloaded to a local computer device or run on hosted “clouds”. An example of Google Apps listing is shown below:


SUMMARY
The availability of computer applications from App Stores is a significant new development that alters how systems should be acquired. By offering ready-to-use and rated applications customers can bypass the extremely costly process of custom application development. Most importantly the costly application code testing and verification can be mostly avoided provided that an application has received trusted acceptance from reviewers. Applications from Stores can be hosted on either the DoD infrastructure or on commercial infrastructures such as provided by Microsoft, Amazon, Google or Apple. All of the required security, reliability, data-management, fail-over and performance assurance features will be then provided as service from the infrastructure and not from the applications.

DoD needs to offer a wide availability of standard and tested applications that will displace the hundreds of the local applications that are currently custom-programmed by contractors to meet local needs. The DoD apps will also have to meet portability programming standards so that they can get hosted on the DoD infrastructure without changes in configuration.

The products of App Stores will bring closer the time where applications can be added to the DoD networks in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost it presently takes.