When an enterprise does any kind of IT migration, such as an OS upgrade, it has to touch hundreds and sometimes even thousands of apps. Each app needs to be tested, repackaged, and tested again. Each application and version can take anywhere from a few hours to days to be tested. Then the entire process gets repeated every 6-12 months with each new Windows version release, depending on your chosen branch, it becomes quickly and painfully obvious that the time and manpower needed is a huge strain on IT.
One major benefit to a modern app management environment is that this part of the process is significantly trimmed down. But there are multiple other benefits to modern app management, and we will discuss nine (9) of them in this article.
Always Up To Date
One of the biggest benefits of modern app management is having apps that are always up-to-date. Whether it is a new security update, a new feature, or a critical fix, in a traditional app environment, these would need to be implemented by IT, and might need testing first. This means that, depending on the workload of IT, users run the risk of having a device that is vulnerable to attacks, or one that is inefficient, resulting in a poor user experience and an unhappy employee.
Determining which apps in your estate can be brought over into a modern management system can be a burdensome, time-intensive task. Using an application suitability tool, like Access AppScan, allows you to quickly and easily determine which can be converted into an MSIX, app attach, etc. AppScan also details the reasons why an app cant' move over, i.e., boot time services or device drivers.
In a modern app environment, using MSIX app attach, apps are created autonomously and are able to be loaded onto a machine in a quicker and more efficient way than ever before. Apps that are still in MSI format, or when new versions of apps are released, IT can use an app attach creation tool to make a new MSIX app attach version of the app. This creates a seamless transition for the user to always have the latest version of their apps.
Latest In Security
Being up-to-date means having the latest in security updates, but it doesn't stop there. Developers that deliver apps via the cloud generally have enterprise-level security, and apps hosted on platforms such as Azure or AWS have extremely robust security measures in place.
Also, on devices that are running the latest in modern app management software, such as Windows 10 with Windows Defender Application Guard and Microsoft Edge, suspicious sites are automatically isolated in a container to protect the rest of the network from phishing and other attacks.
An Agile Environment
In the past, enterprises were slow to respond to a major change, i.e., 2+ years to rollout a new OS. However, major changes now happen at a much faster pace since the release of Windows 10 — not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic, which required companies across the world to change not only how their employees worked, but how their customers were able to access their products or services.
In a traditional environment, a stay-at-home order would have slowed productivity in an enterprise almost to a halt. With modern app management, enterprises with minimal essential IT staff can quickly get their employees back up and running on devices as if they were in the office.
For example, using on-premise VDI or DaaS technology, companies can "switch on" the needed remote logins, having employees connect securely with a seamless or even better user experience. Since this technology is always on and ready, the cost is more manageable and it can be scaled up and down.
IT can also more easily implement new apps — apps that might be needed to serve customers but weren't being used previously — in a quick turnaround time.
Deploying traditional or on-premise apps is a time- and manpower-intensive task. Creating new gold standard images after new versions of apps come out, and then deploying those new images onto thousands of devices is a repetitive, burdensome task. With modern apps, especially if you have created an MSIX app attach, there isn't a need to create a new gold image every time an app is updated.
Instead, with app attach, applications have a digital version and are side-loaded in a containerized way, eliminating the need for a gold image. This also makes it easier to add in new apps once an app attach is created for it.
Significant Infrastructure Cost Reduction
In a traditional VDI setup the number of servers an enterprise needs to operate is staggering. Besides the limitation of the number of devices that a single server can handle (20-30), the servers also need to be spread out across locations in multiple cities and countries, and they need to serve remote and work-from-home employees. This requires an enormous infrastructure cost, and IT budget, to procure and maintain these servers, which companies are looking to reduce.
In a modern VDI setup, a significant portion of the server workload is shifted to the cloud hosted off premise data center, utilizing the third-party app servers. As mentioned earlier, these servers have enterprise-level security. There is also the additional benefit of the processing power for these apps happening in the cloud instead of on the user's device.
In light of this, recent technology studies have shown that a majority of enterprises, 60-70%, are planning on reducing the number of data centers presently and in the next year.
Lower Maintenance Costs
Having less infrastructure means less to maintain and fewer IT employees to maintain it, which translates into cost savings. But there is more to the savings than just less hardware. With more minor updates on an Evergreen IT basis instead of a few major updates, it is much less likely that major conflicts requiring the involvement of IT will occur.
In a modern app management setting, users are delivered new features and interfaces more often, so the changes are not as dramatic as, for example, receiving a whole new operating system where there is a learning curve to get used to it again. Also, IT departments can use automation tools, such as our product Sign-Off, to have users go through the new features and settings, get familiar with them, and make sure they work — all without getting IT involved.
Less Overall Risk
Risk reduction is another benefit. As mentioned earlier, apps that are always up-to-date have fewer security vulnerabilities that can allow hackers to gain access to secure systems. With more frequent and smaller updates, if there is an issue or conflict with a line-of-business app, rolling back or discovering/fixing the issue is an easier, faster process.
In an environment where apps are updated continuously rather than updated only during large projects, there is less chance of running out of budget and manpower, or having a project stall or, worse yet, fail.
Better Managed Licensing Costs
Licensing has always been a huge cost and a potential risk for enterprises. In a traditionally managed environment, it is easy for the number of licenses to far exceed the number of users, causing extra cost. The reverse can also be true, where the number of licenses paid for is less than what is being used. If this scenario is discovered during a software audit, it can lead to penalties, litigation, and time spent complying with the audit.
If done correctly and diligently, modern application management can help you manage your licenses more efficiently. Using automation software with API connections in systems like SCCM, InTune, Azure, and AppV, the delivery and management of licenses makes having the correct number easier than ever before. This ensures that when an audit does happen, not only will you have the correct number of licenses, but gathering the information for the audit will not be as burdensome of a process.
Better User Experience
Employees that have a positive user experience are more engaged employees. Engaged employees are more efficient, less distracted, and have lower absentee rates, which leads to over a 20% profitability rate compared to non-engaged employees.
In a modern app system, there are several ways that an improved user experience is accomplished. As mentioned earlier, since updates happen more often, the changes with each update are smaller and palatable, causing less disruption for the user when learning new features and settings. Also, with continuously updated apps, errors and bugs are fixed quicker, so employees no longer have to utilize as many workarounds.
There is also a higher level of continuity. For example, if an employee has to remotely login from a home machine or teach a colleague on their machine, the apps (and files) are the same versions. With self-service automation, employees feel empowered to keep their device up-to-date and in the most efficient state.
In the last six years, Microsoft has solidified its stance on creating a modern desktop experience with Windows 10 and Microsoft 365 at the forefront. There is a push from Microsoft for companies to replace legacy apps and adopt newer technology at a faster pace than ever before.
The message is clear: modernize or be left behind with an IT environment that is vulnerable and at a competitive disadvantage.