In February of this year, RES Software introduced its IT Store product, which at first glance looked (and sounded) like an application similar to Citrix’s StoreFront. However, once you scratch the surface, IT Store appears to be a lot more than just a pretty front end to some installed or streamed applications; it’s a full IT service workflow that allows IT to deliver applications and services to the end user when needed and without manual intervention. The clue’s in the name: not a storefront, but a full store.
The software is a new version of the RES Service Orchestration solution, which was previously available as an extension of RES Automation Manager but is now sold as a separate product.
I caught up with Patrik Zander of RES Software and fired him a few questions about the IT Store product:
James Rankin (JR): Can you deploy RES IT Store separately to the rest of the RES suite of products, or is it a feature of the full suite?
Patrik Zander (PZ): You can install the RES IT Store as a separate solution. One named user for IT Store comes with one RES Automation Manager desktop license.
JR: Deployed separately, how is it licensed and what’s the cost (ballpark figures)?
PZ: List price for RES IT Store (including provisioning and desktop automation) is €100 per named user. Other pricing is available if it is licensed as part of the full RES Suite.
JR: Does the RES IT Store require a client agent of any sort to function, or can it be connected to simply by using a browser?
PZ: IT Store can be used with only a browser to perform basic delivery and return workflow activities; however, a desktop automation agent is included to perform provisioning tasks such as account creation (AD, SaaS, etc.) as well as machine-specific tasks (add to local group, install app, change registry, and much more).
JR: Can the IT Store be set up to be accessed via the Internet as well as internally?
PZ: Yes, there is full external access.
JR: If it can be accessed externally, does it require any sort of federated access (e.g., DCs in the DMZ), or is it accessed via some sort of perimeter appliance?
PZ: RES IT Store can be set up as standard web server with user account logons in accordance with your company’s best practices on security.
JR: Do admins need to do any packaging of applications to get them into the IT Store, or do they simply drop the installer files somewhere and make them they are available to users?
PZ: RES IT Store can leverage existing ConfigMgr applications/packages and LANDESK deployments through RES Automation Manager or RES Workspace Manager. New deployments can easily be created within the RES Automation Manager automation framework.
JR: Do the users actually pick the software from the IT Store, and is it installed on their client devices, or are the applications streamed to them or delivered via a client?
PZ: This depends on the application type and whether the IT Store is used in conjunction with RES Workspace Manager. If RES Workspace Manager is used, context awareness can be applied to the user’s session and the best delivery mechanism available will be used according to IT policies.
JR: Do the users need to be administrators or have elevated privileges for the installation to succeed, or is it handled by a service account?
PZ: The deployment agent will be used to perform installations or other activities on the local computer. Users do not need administrator or elevated privileges.
JR: Does the user’s machine or device need to be domain-joined for the installation to succeed?
PZ: No. RES Automation Manager can be used in non-domain environments.
JR: How does the RES IT Store compare, in terms of functionality and features, to App-V, ThinApp, XenApp, and other technologies?
PZ: RES IT Store gives and removes access to and from IT services and applications based on qualifications. RES Workspace Manager can use this information as an access principle, along with context awareness, to select the most appropriate delivery method noted above for the current user session. The true value of RES IT Store is its ability to integrate with, extend, and enhance existing solutions such as SaaS, ITSM, PCLM, HRMS, Runbook Automation, and Workspace Virtualization to manage the complete lifecycle of IT services and offer an IT as a Service platform.
JR: Can the IT Store deliver applications to devices of all sorts (for instance, run Windows apps on Android), or are you limited to apps designed for the respective client operating systems?
PZ: RES IT Store can deploy applications to Windows, Mac, Linux and UNIX devices. Mobile applications can be delivered through our integration with EMM solutions, such as MobileIron and XenMobile.
All in all, the IT Store looks like an interesting piece of kit. It is trying very hard to come close to the familiar app stores of Google and Apple, giving users an experience that they know is easy to use from their own consumer devices. But it also makes a big effort to simplify the life of the IT department in delivering these services and requirements to users.
The RES IT Store interface is clear and easy to use, and it does a good job of consolidating processes, management, application delivery, and the like into a one-stop IT shop. RES has a lot of grounding in user environment management and automation, but the IT Store looks like a very interesting move for them in attempting to provide users access to applications and data from a single portal. Coupled with the permissions and rules available to regulate this access, it definitely looks like a solution with a lot of potential mileage.
The RES IT Store is available with RES Suite 2014.
Thanks to Patrik Zander of RES Software for taking the time to answer some of my questions.