Work around to distribute private enterprise apps proposed


Marketplace in its latest iteration has added some new features, such a beta applications and private, unlisted app, which are only accessible with the right URL, but for enterprise settings there still remain issues.

Junichi Anno, IT Pro evangelist of Microsoft Japan, has posted an article about distributing enterprise apps via Marketplace.

His solution proposes the creation of a Catalogue app, which contains deep links to the other applications.  This solution means there is less likelihood of the URL for private apps leaking and also users can be notified of new apps being added to the catalogue via a live tile or notification for example.

To prevent the content of the catalogue app from falling in the wrong hands Junichi Anno also proposes the use of ‘Windows Azure AppFabric ACS’ and ‘AD FS’ to protect the catalogue service.

The whole process however remains a work-around.  As we have seen by efforts of Justin Angel and also hackers on XDA-Dev, it is indeed easy to download most of Marketplace, meaning even without knowing a private URL it is possible to get one’s hands on a private XAP and reverse engineer it, possibly revealing confidential and proprietary business logic.

The ultimate solution is to enable businesses to push applications directly to devices being managed by their IT systems without passing through Marketplace in any way.  It seems at present Microsoft is not ready to go down this route yet, but anything else still remains poor solution.


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