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Tips for enterprise mobile app deployment

How do we go about deploying our enterprise mobile apps to end users?

At some point, organizations will be concerned with mobile app deployment. There are three types of apps you will...

want to deploy:

  1. Commercial apps
  2. Third-party apps that require customization
  3. Custom apps

Because more than 1.5 million apps are in the iTunes and Google Play app stores, you should see if there are apps you can link to before deciding to build one yourself. Apple currently has a mass purchase program for apps where enterprises can purchase bulk licenses for paid-for apps. This eliminates the need for employees to purchase apps with their own money.

Apps that you build, customize and deploy must be stored on your own network. Before you can deploy these types of apps for iOS, you need to apply a specific enterprise certificate. Note that the enterprise certificate for an enterprise app must be updated for each enterprise app you own every year. Android does not have these restrictions. Additional information is available for building iOS enterprise apps.

Mobile app deployment can be handled through

  • a dedicated website
  • a mobile device management app store
  • Google Play for Work

A dedicated website, such as a SharePoint list or a mobile optimized website, is a great approach for companies with only a few apps. Even companies such as Dell use a website to list enterprise mobile apps with links to the files either on iTunes App Store, Google Play or the iOS app for Android apk files.

If you have implemented a mobile device management (MDM) or mobile application management app you have an option to leverage their respective app stores. When MDM is added to a phone, the accompanying enterprise app store is also added. In addition, most MDM enterprise app stores give you control over who sees the listed apps. For instance, you may want to restrict which apps are presented to a user by territory (e.g., North American users might see different apps than users in China) or by group as dictated by Active Directory.

Google released a new method for mobile app deployment in March 2015 as part of its Android for Work program. Android for Work specifically allows for extremely effective separation of enterprise data from personal data on an Android 5.0+ device. Your Android apps can be deployed through Google Play for Work, a private app store hosted by Google Play Services.

Next Steps

Discover enterprise app stores

Creating an enterprise app store

This was last published in June 2015

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How have you streamlined the enterprise mobile app deployment process?
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We've utilized HockeyApp for our deployments, since it allows us to work on incremental updates and test them out without having to push to the App Store or Google Play. The biggest benefit it turnaround time; using hockey app, we can publish apps quickly and get feedback on their changes.
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