What Makes App Deployment Challenging?

Nikfar Khaleeli | Oct 6, 2020

Organizations’ investments in mobile apps provide substantial benefits. One recent survey found that 53 percent of corporate respondents said mobile apps increased their overall organizational productivity. This fact is notable because another recent poll reported 59 percent of Americans work beyond their typical 9-to-5 hours using mobile apps. There is no doubt the enterprise mobile app market is significant. Transparency Market Research estimates the global enterprise mobility market will grow to a value of US $510 billion by 2022.

The mobile app lifecycle doesn't stop when app development is complete. App deployment is a crucial phase during which critical tasks must be completed before the app is made available to end users. It’s not as straightforward as installing the app on a web server, or any other computing unit that’s fully controllable. Scanning for vulnerabilities, adding security controls, testing, signing and adapting the app for its unique distribution channels are examples of activities that could be required during app deployment. It is often a convoluted process, and one that most organizations’ teams find incredibly challenging.

Cross-functional complexities

One of the reasons that mobile app deployment is difficult is because the process is disjointed. It requires coordination of efforts across teams and systems. Some parts of the deployment process are automated while others are manual. The average mobile app requires 30 touches by 15 to 20 people in multiple departments before being deployed. The time to deploy has gone from 2 to 4 weeks because of the growing demand and security requirements for mobile apps.

Activity proliferation

Mobile app deployments are a collection of activities executed across multiple departments, systems and tools. A typical deployment requires many steps; it needs to be defined, built, tested and implemented to yield a successful result. Activities in business or technical terms include:

  • Where is the app going to be distributed?
  • Does the app have security vulnerabilities?
  • Who must review the app?
  • Is the app code signing restricted to a specific group?
  • Does the application have required app-level controls?

An activity in a deployment workflow can be broken down into smaller sub-steps, which employ additional products, services and technologies. Validating sub-steps to ensure everything works in concert consumes even more time and resources. The more tools and people involved, the greater the risk of errors and deployment delays.

Customization intricacies

While “mobile app deployment” may conjure up the concept of a single one-size-fits-all deployment workflow, the reality is different. The sequence of workflow activities undertaken varies based on the deployment use case. Consider two different deployment use cases:

  1. An unmodified app needs to be signed and distributed through the enterprise app catalog to users whose devices are under UEM (Unified Endpoint Management) controls.
  2. A custom mobile app into which proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) models have been integrated is to be distributed to employees, partners and consultants across geographies through public app stores. Significant monies were invested in creating the AI models and it behooves the organization to prevent reverse engineering of the app, while customizing it further for different languages.

Clearly, the second use case will require a very different, customized sequence of activities compared to the first use case.  Bespoke workflows can get very problematic and tricky, given the many types of integrations, services, human tasks, testing and other operational environments used today.

Underlying technology churn

There are many underlying technologies, tools and services used for implementing, supporting and managing app deployments.  Functionally, these include importing apps, scanning and analyzing apps for vulnerabilities, embedding SDKs and libraries, performing code obfuscation and anti-tampering, code signing, app testing and distribution. These tools are continually being improved and updated. New tools are always in the pipeline.

Given this diversity, app deployment teams will generally not know of, or be proficient in the use of these tools. The requirement to swap out underlying technologies for newer or better ones is a given. Understanding a workflow’s underlying technologies and churning it when necessary is an ongoing challenge for any team.

Given all these problems, what is the solution?

How Blue Cedar Solves the Problem

Blue Cedar enables organizations to rapidly and cost-effectively drive end-user adoption of mobile apps by automating the complex workflows between mobile app development and deployment to end users.

The Blue Cedar Platform is a cloud-based, purpose-built solution for deploying mobile apps. It orchestrates release activities across people and services, automating tasks where appropriate. Using orchestration, the Platform executes efficient and error-free workflows that eliminate mobile app deployment delays, while enabling compliance with security policies and regulations.

Blue Cedar offers businesses and governments an orchestration platform to manage enterprise mobile app deployments. Blue Cedar enables customers to:

  • Track and align teams and stakeholders through shared process visibility
  • Use existing or create new workflows that fit the way your organization works
  • Integrate existing solutions and tools into a single process
  • Track all steps for faster and better outcomes
  • Create a single source of truth to capture data on mobile app deployment
  • Effortlessly ensure a digital audit trail across all steps in the process

If you would like more information on Blue Cedar, contact us to arrange a live demonstration.

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