One of the most efficient routes to market for any developer is through an application store that is used by a lot of other applications. For that reason there’s naturally a lot of interest in the AppStore from Apple, GooglePlay or app stores associated with specific cloud computing platform such as Salesforce.com. Essentially, all of these function as central points of application distribution.
But beyond certifying that applications work, Apple, Google and providers of cloud computing services don't do much in terms of promoting the adoption of third-party applications. By way of an alternative, a new class of application distributors has emerged in the form of organizations such as AppDirect, which not only showcases cloud applications to potential customers but also helps market them, provide financing, and manage the billing services needed to actually monetize them.
As AppDirect heads into 2014, co-CEO Daniel Saks says the distributor is now reaching enough critical mass to enter the next phase of cloud application adoption. As corporate customers get more comfortable in the cloud, many of them are beginning to move to standardize the custom user interface they use to access cloud applications. Rather than having users move between disparate application experiences, the goal is to allow end users to seamlessly move between “headless application services” delivered via the cloud.
Saks says that AppDirect is moving in the direction of providing the integration capabilities needed to enable those kinds of services. The basic idea is to allow software developers to participate in next-generation cloud application environments where, for example, capabilities such as analytics are delivered as a service.
The end result, says Saks, should be a network effect that acts as a force multiplier when it comes to adoption of application services. Each application service in turn exposes customers to another application service that they previously would probably not even been aware existed.
It will take a while for this next evolution of cloud application services to fully mature. But once it does, AppDirect wants to be in a position to enable it, which means providing an integration capability that will allows organizations to more easily mix and match application services, Saks says.
All this integration, of course, will be enabled by existing and new API and integration platforms being developed in the cloud. The challenge facing developers at this juncture is figuring out how to go about isolating the back end of their applications from the presentation layer to make sure that as the cloud application ecosystem continues to evolve, their applications remain relevant.