The biggest challenges in enterprise app delivery and how to overcome them

Applications developed in-house and applications bought off the shelf present different problems. Gartner research director Paul Delory explains how to approach those issues.

The biggest challenges in enterprise app delivery and how to overcome them

At VMworld 2018, Gartner research director Paul Delory spoke with TechRepublic about the problems of applications, both those developed in-house, and those bought "off-the-shelf." The following is an edited transcript of the interview.

"Application delivery is a hard problem for a lot of enterprises to solve," says Gartner's research director Paul Delory. "One of the challenges that they face is, most enterprisers are going to be dealing with a mix of software they wrote, and software they bought. And those have two very different delivery mechanisms. Managing code you bought is fundamentally different from managing code you wrote.

So, application delivery is at least a two-part problem. What do you do with the applications developed in-house? And then what do you do with those applications you're buying off the shelf?

For the in-house applications, for the stuff that you're developing in-house, CICD, continuous integration, continuous delivery, is the way to go; that represents the state-of-the art in software development. So if you want to deliver custom app like that, you want to build a CICD pipeline and deliver it that way. Not that that's easy -- achieving that -- but from a strategic direction, it's clear what you should do.

When you deploy a commercial application, however, the way forward is not so clear. You're not going to be in the vendor's delivery pipeline. So what do you do? The solution that you build may be unique for every application. That's another frustration there. You may build an application delivery methodology that works for application A that does not work for application B.

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There are some technologies that emerged to solve this problem, or solve some of these problems. The first one that comes to mind, really, is containers. If you think about what a container is, it takes all of the dependencies of an application and rolls them up into one package that I can then instantiate anywhere. So that solves a lot of my application delivery challenges right there.

The other option you may have is using a continuous-configuration automation tool, something like a Puppet, or an Ansible, or a Chef, or PowerShell DSC, on the Windows side. These have the ability and many cases to deploy applications systemically. So if you have a large, complex-enterprise application, something like a sequel database, or something similarly complex, in many cases the logic you get, you can download freely, and apply with these tools to help you deploy that application.

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The other one that's really interesting to me is this idea of having a curated application. And this would be something like Helm and Kubernetes, or one of the various enterprise app-store products out there now; the idea that you would have the full infrastructure for a particular application you can download as a stack, and deploy as a stack so that you, as an operations person, or an infrastructure person, don't need to have domain-specific expertise about the actual application. You can get an application environment that's deployed, that's built according to best practices for that application.

That's an interesting model as well. And these are all things that we're seeing that are emerging to help solve this application over challenge."

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