JackBe's App Store is interesting but not new

JackBe, one of the Mashup vendors we cover in our Portals and Content Integration Research, announced version 3.0 of their Mashup product Presto. The new version features enhancements to their existing, mostly visual tools, some of which we had pointed out in our last review of Presto.

However, the greatest focus of this upgrade has been addition of a new "App Store" functionality that allows you to create enterprise-specific App Stores from where authorized users can download and apply applications for their own use.

JackBe's marketing would like you to believe that they are the first ones to bring this App Store concept -- popularized on the consumer side by Apple -- to the enterprise. However, they are not. Most Portal vendors we cover in our research already have some sort of catalog from where users can pick and choose components and assemble new pages or even applications. Among the Mashup vendors, IBM Mashup Center also offers a catalog for your users to search for, browse, categorize, rate, and tag components.

However, JackBe does deserve credit for bringing this functionality into focus. One of the key expectations of modern day enterprise software, including Portals and Mashup software is the ability to shorten time to market. This can be done if you are able to increase reuse rather than reinvent the wheel every time, which in turn means you need to have better facilities for managing reusable assets: the ability to share, search, tag and categorize, tracking the life cycle of those assets, measuring the effectiveness of reuse, and finally the ability to extend them and use them for use cases for which they were not built originally.

We cover the reuse aspect in a dedicated section in our research and have found that most products are not up to the mark here. Most of them are plagued by poor usability of their interfaces, inflexible nature of finding assets, and no ability to define a process for accepting a resuable asset. In most cases, even though you can pick a component from a catalog, there's very little you can do in terms of extending those components.

But make sure you test any mashup service -- including Presto and its new App Store --  for your scenario. Find out how easy is it to customize things such as modifying the process for adding components or creating a new category for your assets.

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