Embarcadero Technologies' AppWave Modernizes PC Desktops with App Store Convenience
Embarcadero Technologies AppWave Modernizes PCDesktops with App Store ConvenienceA sponsored podcast discussion of how enterprise app stores can bridge the gap betweensoftware development and distribution and maintenance.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: Embarcadero TechnologiesDana Gardner: Hi. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and yourelistening to BrieﬁngsDirect. Today, we present a sponsored podcast discussion on the productivity gap between modern software and the aging manner in which most enterprises still distribute and manage applications on personal computers. At a time when business models and whole industries are being upended by improved use of software, were also seeing mobility, cloud services, and data analytics. IT providers inside of enterprises are still painstakingly provisioning and maintaining PC applications in much the same way they didin the 1990s. [Disclosure: Embarcadero Technologies is a sponsor of BrieﬁngsDirect podcasts.]Furthermore, with using these older models, most enterprises don’t even know what PC appsthey have in use on their networks and even across thousands, in many cases, of notebookcomputers. That means theyre also lacking that visibility into how, or even if, these apps arebeing used, and they may even be paying for licenses that they don’t need to pay for.So while the software inventory and business service management initiatives are helping alongthese lines, theres a general lack of control over PC applications. I don’t think you can solve thatwithout including new ways to engage the PC users directly. This is really a function about theuse and the users, not just the applications and the PC.To learn more about how things can be done better, Im here now with the President and CEO ofEmbarcadero Technologies, Wayne Williams, to examine the ongoing problems around archaicPC apps management and how new models, taking a page from the popular app store model, canrapidly boost the management of PC applications.Wayne has more than 15 years of experience in founding and leading companies. He wasappointed CEO of Embarcadero Technologies in 2007 and he is a former COO, Senior VicePresident of Products and CTO at Embarcadero.I want to welcome you to BrieﬁngsDirect, Wayne. It’s good to have you with us.Wayne Williams: Good morning. Thanks for having me, Dana.
Gardner: As I said, it’s kind of ironic that, on one hand, we have software taking over in a larger sense how businesses are run and how industries are being innovative in reaching customers in new ways. This has been highlighted recently by Marc Andreessen in some of his writings. At the same time, the corporate PC, also driven by software, is still sort of stodgy and moribund, at least in the perception of how it’sbeing used productively.So let’s unpack this a little bit, Wayne. How is it that software is advancing generally, but PCsremain, in a sense, unchanged?Williams: Ive been asking myself that question for many years. Ive spent most of my life insoftware, and Im embarrassed to say that the industry has really done a poor job at makingsoftware available to the users, which is the fundamental issue.Windows is clearly the dominant PC platform but it has fundamental design ﬂaws, which sowedthe seeds for the problem.Part of the storyBut that’s only a small part of the story. Software vendors are so focused on building the next great application and on features and functions in that application that theyve lost sight of what really matters, which is making sure that the application that you build gets used, gets in the hands of the users, and that they get their work done. When I look at the PC industry and where it has come, the applications themselves have improved dramatically. I can’t imagine being as productive as I am without Microsoft Outlook, for example, for email and calendaring. And Adobe Photoshop. I don’t think you can ﬁnd a photo anywhere that has not been edited with Photoshop. It’s incrediblypowerful.But unfortunately, a lot of the gains that really could be made have been wasted, because it’svery, very tough to get an application from a vendor into a users hands.Gardner: It seems to me that while the technology is somewhat unchanged since the 90s, theusers are a different breed nowadays. We have different behaviors and different levels ofanticipation and expectation around what productivity is all about. We used to call theseproductivity apps, but now productivity comes from being able to innovate, self-start, even learnfrom your peers, that social fabric type of an interplay.Are these some of the core problems? Were at a dissonance between expectations and behaviorson one hand and the same old local area network (LAN) level of management on the other.
Williams: Absolutely. That’s a great point. At the end of the day, all technology is aboutproductivity. Software certainly is about productivity. And if youre going to radically increasethe productivity of a team, the knowledge that team can share about what tools are used for whatjob is critical knowledge. That’s why we’ve built in the ability to rate and review apps intoAppWave. Team members can ﬁnd the best tool for the job based on peer feedback.Gardner: What about this as it applies to application development and deployment? I know thatEmbarcadero has been involved with that for an awfully long time. Is there something of adisconnect between development, gathering requirements, creating an application, and then theoperations, thinking about operations through that adoption pattern, and user expectation andbehaviors?It seems as if were still stuck in this era, where theres a wall between the two, but some of theactivities that you have been up to strike me as trying to close that, or at least create a feedbackloop, or a life cycle beneﬁt, between apps, how theyre developed, how theyre used, and thenhow they are iterated on.Williams: There are a few ways to look at it from a development perspective. One way is thatsoftware developers are probably the most aggressive in terms of the need for productivity, themost aggressive users of applications and tools and all the issues that surround that.At the end of the day, software developers, whether at a garage startup or one of the largesoftware vendors, are passionate about solving a problem, creating software that solves aproblem, and getting it into the hands of their users. That’s what really drives developers.Important disconnectThe problem is that theres a disconnect between creating your software and getting it into thehands of the user. You very rarely are talking about this happening in seconds, which it should.It’s something that happens more on the order of months or quarters in a large company.Gardner: I have to imagine that this contributes also to the security problems. So manyorganizations now are really doubling down on what they need to do for security, recognizingthat it’s not something you buy out of a box, that it’s really part and parcel of process,methodology, standards, and governance.There must be some beneﬁts by closing this loop, as you pointed out, when it comes to bringingbetter security and then making changes that bring even better security on an ongoing basis.Williams: Theres a whole host of problems that emanate from the root problem, the rootproblem that were talking about, and security is one of them.
You have an environment which is high friction. It reminds me really of a state of manufacturingbefore the Industrial Revolution, where you had processes that were slow, expensive,unpredictable, and error prone. That’s how PC software has operated over the last 20-plus years.When you have an environment that is so high friction, users will go around it. So you have thisprocess with the PC, where IT tries to get more control and locks down the environment more,and the business users that need to get the work done ﬁnd ways to get it done.We have large customers that have a policy: when somebody is hired, all controls are turned offso that they can get their desktop together and get the apps that they need for the ﬁrst three days.Then theyll lock it down. That’s not a good environment for security.Gardner: That’s begging for trouble. You mentioned the core problem or the root problem. Iwonder if you wouldn’t mind ﬂeshing that out a bit for us. What do you think the real rootproblem is here?Williams: The root problem is that software should move at the speed of light, yet it moves atthe speed of a glacier.Let me give you an example. In a mid- to large-sized company, if an employee is looking for aspecial pen for a new project, they can go to a catalog, take out a pen, and they can usually haveit the next day, and that’s a physical good.Software is virtual. So it could and should move at the speed of light, but for many of our largecustomers it takes quarters to get software into the user’s hand.Looking for productivityGardner: So weve identiﬁed the problem internally. As I said, its ironic, because when welook to the larger landscape of business, were still in a tough economic situation around theglobe. People are looking for productivity.Marc Andreessen wrote recently that software is really revolutionizing how we procure thingslike entertainment and books and how we discover new products and services online. We can dothis as a consumer. Doesn’t it seem almost absurd that, at a time when individuals using some ofthe tools that are available on a retail basis, are leaps and bounds ahead of someone who is justtrying to get some basic work done in a large corporation?Williams: Yes, you can take a fairly simple device like a smartphone from Apple or an Androiddevice and ﬁnd and run applications literally in seconds. Yet you have this sophisticatedenvironment with hundreds of billions of dollars worth of software sold every year, powerfulhardware and processing power, but its like pulling teeth for a user to get the applications she orhe needs.
Gardner: Wayne, you and I have been around long enough to know that the way to instigatechange in an enterprise environment is not necessarily to attempt wholesale radical shifts. Youneed to work with whats in place and recognize that investments have been made and that thoseinvestments are going to continue to be leveraged.So lets start deﬁning the solution at a high level here. We want the applications that have beendeveloped. We want the interfaces and data that folks are used to to continue to beneﬁt them. Butwe also want to start energizing this new sense of empowerment that people have through theirpersonal lives and their consumer roles and bring some of these things together.Craft for me, if you could, the vision about retaining whats good about the enterprise and whatsbeen invested in and brought to the daily grind, but at the same time start to bring innovation andallow people to exercise their behaviors and their empowerment.Williams: As far as whats good and what can be retained, theres a great footprint of hardwareout there, PC hardware. A massive investment has been made.Its the same with software. There are tons of software, both licensed and built internally. And theinternal part is really important. What I see from our big customers is that for every commercialapp that they license they will have 10 that are built internally. And while there is very littlevisibility into how commercial licenses are used, there is some, but its little. And theres zerovisibility into who’s using internally built software, for the most part.There have been massive investments made in software, and unfortunately, a lot of theproductivity that could have been realized hasn’t been. But the good news is that it can be.When I look at the opportunities, its really two constituents, which you described. You talkedabout the user for a second and then you talked about the investment and what can be reused, andthat’s really management, typically IT management, which is centralized. AppWave is aboutbringing these two stakeholders together.Gardner: How can we do that? Im familiar with what youve been doing with developers.Developers have unique requirements, but it seems like youve gained some insight and sometechnology in serving their needs in a fast-paced, agile environment, and can now bring that tothe larger group of consumers within the enterprise.Removing frictionWilliams: If you look at mobile software, the friction between the user and the app is removed,and the results are fantastic. For us, that was a great proof point, because we started on AppWavebefore anybody had heard of the Apple App Store.For PCs, the problem is much more difﬁcult and its much larger. Mobile software is about a $10billion industry, and PC is somewhere around $300 billion. So the opportunity for productivity
gains and overall results is much, much bigger, and the problem is much more difﬁcult. Now,with AppWave the mobile experience -- ﬁnd, run, rate, review -- comes to the PC. So the agileenterprise has tools to support it.Gardner: So bringing that mentality of search, discover, share your experience, ease of accesswhen you want to then act on that kind of information, almost instant gratiﬁcation when the appcomes down, being able to run it, and then upgrade it along the way with very little oversight,very little maintenance, certainly very little disruption, you have to ask yourself, why would Iwant to do it any other way?How do we bring these together? How do we bring the app store experience to IT? How do weenable them to bring that to their own constituents, their own users?Williams: The key is the system. With the enterprise app store we bring two constituentstogether: users and management.You mentioned a few things that are core principles. For users, there are really three principlesthat drive everything that we do. One of them is self-service, the next is socialization, and thethird is instant gratiﬁcation.As a user, when I have a problem to solve and Im looking for an app to help me solve it, I wantto be able to ﬁnd it myself, quickly. I want to understand what my peers are saying about thatapp. When I decide I want to try it, I click a button and run it. Everything we do goes throughone of those ﬁlters. It’s about the user experience.From a management perspective, for IT they need centralized control and visibility into realusage. So those are two principles that really drive everything we do with AppWave from amanagement perspective.People talk about the consumerization of IT now, and initiatives like "bring your own device."The key for IT is to put an environment in place that draws users in and gives them what theyrelooking for, but you can still maintain overall control and have real visibility into who is usingsoftware and when.Gardner: Im curious. With AppWave, is there the opportunity to bring down apps fresh, ormore frequently than the typical install, lockdown, patch process that were familiar with now? Isthere a hybrid model that incorporates some of the goodness from other trends like software as aservice (SaaS) or virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), but allows the same PC apps, the richgraphical user interfaces (GUIs), the investments that have been made in the code and logic toremain?
Results is conﬂictWilliams: This is one of the difﬁcult engineering challenges we had and it goes back to my ﬁrstpoint about Windows sowing the seeds of some of the problems. If you look at Windows, itsdesigned around the concept of sharing and sort of a utopian view, where applications could allshare parts, and typically those are called DLLs in Windows. Unfortunately, the end result of thatis conﬂict.When a user wants to try a new application, that application is installed and will typicallyconﬂict with other applications that were previously installed. The problem gets worse when youget into new versions.In the PC market, most vendors update their software multiple times a year. For example, we putout new release of every major product once a year and then we will have point releases typicallyquarterly. You have an awful lot of change, and every time there is a change, you stand to breakother things that are already installed on your computer.That was one of the things we had to tackle, and we did with AppWave. That folds into instantgratiﬁcation. If Im a user who has an existing version of a particular application, and I needeither the older version or the newer version, I should be able to click a button and be productive.I should be using it in seconds.Gardner: Well, weve deﬁned our problem. We recognize that its severe. We recognize that theenvironment is propelling people for change. We know that people have alternatives in themarket for at least some apps, and we have been describing some of what is required of asolution, at least at a high level. So I guess its time now to really dig in a little bit. Describe forus what AppWave is, what it does, and how it came to be?Williams: AppWave is an enterprise app store for PCs that provides self-service. Users can veryeasily type in a search term and get a result. The result is a set of applications. Then they canclick and run those applications, read ratings and reviews from their peers, and they can beassured that when they do run those applications, theyre not going to disrupt anything else thatthey have on their PC.Gardner: Tell me a little bit about that problem you mentioned a moment ago, that ability tobring down new or quickly upgrade or change apps, but without losing the conﬁg, theimportance of the legacy, the use and trail of what that application has done for the user. How didyou solve that?Williams: Years and years of engineering, but at the heart of it, we removed the dependenciesthat applications would have with other applications and with the environment in general. Eachof these applications is able to stand on its own, which means you can have multiple versions ofa particular app and move between them painlessly with no concerns.
I think that’s important for just about any knowledge worker. Ive seen company after company --and ours is no different -- afraid to move, for example, to the newest version of Ofﬁce, becausetheyre not sure if documents from the old version are going to work properly. Problems like thatare gone, because you can easily move from version to version with the click of a button.This is particularly important in R&D,where a tremendous amount of time is spent retooling togo from one conﬁguration of applications for a particular system.Prior to having AppWave, developers had multiple PCs, one for working on the new releasethat’s going to come out this year and then one for going back and ﬁxing bugs on last year’srelease.What are the metrics?Gardner: As you pointed out, Wayne, youve been doing this for some time. A lot of R&D,starting with tools, is probably the hardest category to crack. And youve seen how organizationshave adopted and used your AppWave approach, creating this storefront, making those appsavailable to solve some of these issues that plague PC software distribution.What have people gained from this? Do we have some metrics? Can we look at some examples?What do you get if you do this properly? How impactful is the shift when you go from say atraditional distribution to an AppWave and an app store distribution model?Williams: I can give you a few examples. Its been amazing for us certainly. We drink our ownchampagne. Weve made incredible gains, with the biggest gains being in two areas.One is in R&D, where teams generally produce a daily build of most of the products. Thoseapps, when they come off the build machine, are now immediately available to all of R&D. Itsparticularly important for QA, because the downtime that you would have retooling and getting anew app is gone. It’s literally seconds. So weve seen some great gains internally with R&D.Weve also seen it with sales. Weve got roughly 20 products. We put out a minor release once aquarter and majors once a year. So if you just looked at the explosion of that set of apps that asalesperson would have to have on their PC, just in two years, it’s 160. That historically has beena problem. It’s just a productivity drain and it’s error prone. Now that problem is gone.There are certainly metrics out there as far as productivity and underutilization of software andoverutilization of software, but I think what’s most exciting is when a customer really sees thatthis can help them get to market quicker.A large ﬁnancial services company had a nine-month rollout cycle for of a new version of a PCapp. They had a really pressing business need to get this done before the holidays, their biggestseason. It was impossible using their current methods for PC software distribution. WithAppWave, users were upgraded to the right version of software in minutes.
The thing that they loved about that whole experience wasnt really the metrics. Certainly theyput together their ROIs and they were impressive, but what that really did for them was that itallowed them to move quickly, to solve the business need in a time that would really make adifference.Gardner: And at a time when software is more important than ever, theyre going to gain anadvantage by being able to deliver that software, put it in the hands of their employees, and alsoput it in the hands in the market, learn from that market and adjust, it just seems like you getgenerally better business agility, particularly when you are in a software intensive ﬁeld which, asI said, most companies are nowadays.Williams: One of the things thats frustrating for me, seeing how the software industry hasmatured and grown over the years, is that everybody talks about ROI. Theres nothing wrongwith the concept of ROI, but what I see often is a forest-and-trees problem, where people willlose sight of what the real goal is.Losing sight of the goalThey will get so buried in a metric here and a metric there to build up an ROI, that they will losesight of the goal. What’s the goal? The goal is to get my product or service to market sooner,better, and with better quality than the competition. That ROI is almost immeasurable.Apple is a great example. This is a company that was in serious trouble for a number of years.Its the most incredible turnaround success story than any of us have ever seen. And all of thatmay not have happened if the iPod was a year late. Sony wasnt totally sleeping. They ownedconsumer electronics, and given a little more time, they probably could have stopped that move.It’s so important for people to remember that software is going to help you get your product orservice to market sooner and better, which is going to help you beat your competition.Gardner: Im afraid we are about out of time, Wayne, but I wanted to look just at a couple of thebuilding trends now that point to the future. Were seeing tremendous uptake in mobile devicesand tablets. Were seeing people who want to be able to combine their roles as consumers andindividuals at home with what they do at work.This is blurring the lines between on-premises, doing work within a corporate environment, or aVPN even. But they need this. This is how theyre going to be productive. Its putting an onusnow, a different level of requirements, on IT, on developers.Is there something about AppWave and what weve been talking about that can be brought intothe mobile and even cloud spheres, these trends being sort of locomotives in the market rightnow, that brings together them and what we have been talking about?
Williams: Absolutely. Our view is that, at the end of the day, its all about getting the right app inthe hands of the user as quickly as possible and that should happen on all relevant platforms. Socertainly mobile tablets, Android tablets, and iOS, iPads, are very cool and powerful devices thatwe are certainly going to support.The important thing to remember is about getting the app to the user, regardless of what devicetheyre using. So whether its a tablet, a PC, or its their own PC, as opposed to the company PC,they should still have access to all the apps that matter, with all the same kind of principles wevetalked about, instant gratiﬁcation, very easy to ﬁnd. Those are all things that were covering inAppWave.Our initial focus was all about solving the PC problem, because in my view that’s the bigproblem. That’s where so much productivity has been locked away. Weve solved that for the PCnow and we certainly will support other popular platforms as they emerge.Gardner: Well, very good. I hate to say we will have to leave it there.Youve been listening to a sponsored podcast discussion on how enterprise app stores are quicklycreating productivity improvements and speed the value beneﬁts for those PC users and acrossthe applications that they are accustomed to. This is something that’s been of interest to ITdepartments and those users as well.Id like to thank our guest. Its been a very intriguing discussion. Weve been here with WayneWilliams, the President and CEO of Embarcadero Technologies. Thanks so much, Wayne.Williams: Thank you, Dana. Have a good day.Gardner: You too. Thanks. This is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, asalways, thanks for listening, and come back next time.Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod.x Sponsor: Embarcadero TechnologiesA sponsored podcast discussion of how enterprise app stores can bridge the gap betweensoftware development and distribution and maintenance. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC,2005-2012. All rights reserved.You may also be interested in: • Take a Deep Dive on How Enterprise App Stores Help Drive Productivity • Enterprise App Store Trends Point to Need for Better Applications Marketplace for ISVs, Service Providers, Mobile Business Ecosystems • App Stores -- Theyre Not Just for Consumer Any More, as More Enterprises Adopt the Model To Support Mobile Applications • Embarcadero Brings Self-Service App Store Model to Enterprises to Target PCs and Their Universe of Software