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10/16/2012
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Enterprise Hunger For Custom Apps Equals Developer Jobs

IT job hunters, it's a good time to be an application developer. Thanks in part to BYOD, the demand for custom enterprise apps is booming.

The mobile app trend is promising, but security remains a concern: Zenprise's survey found that 79.8% of respondents feel data security gives them more comfort in developing mobile apps, and 79.1% feel that secure access is a similarly reassuring capability. While the security concerns are hardly surprising, they allude to the challenges that are implicit in the new app-focused IT landscape.

As Brian Duckering, senior manager for Symantec's Enterprise Mobility Group, told InformationWeek in early October, some apps are vulnerable to exploits not due to any malicious intent from the programmer but rather because the programmer's expertise involves building interesting functions, not fortifying security. Businesses that intend to hire more app developers are no doubt taking this into consideration as they build their respective teams--but in the short term, shielding apps from attack remains a major concern.

Security vendors have stepped in to fill this need. In the process, they have created a mini-industry around evaluating app reputations, a service aimed primarily at anti-malware efforts but that can also help third-party developers to infiltrate the burgeoning demand for custom apps.

Appthority is one vendor that specializes in reputation-based products. Co-founder and president Domingo Guerra said in an interview that attention has evolved from "just malware and devices" to "delivering trust into the mobile ecosystem at every stage." An unknown app developer might have a great idea, he explained, but because IT often acts as a gatekeeper, that developer might struggle to market his or her services. Such third-party programmers can improve their chances if their apps achieve outstanding reputation scores.

Even as business models transition to in-house development, such precautions could continue to have a place. Government entities such as the Department of Defense, or companies within the finance and health care field, Guerra suggested, want no rogue developers in there, so they'll continue to rely on systems that allow them to evaluate app developers internally.

Only time will tell how IT budgets ultimately shake down. Indeed, the SIM survey shows an overall slowdown in IT spending and a hesitancy to add new employees--trends that are at odds with larger staffs of app developers. But with the mobile push showing no signs of abating and Windows 8 continuing the app-based ecosystem's takeover of many traditional PC functions, odds are that app development will remain a focus for the foreseeable future.

Download the debut issue of InformationWeek's Must Reads, a compendium of our best recent coverage on enterprise mobility in our new easy-to-read and -navigate Web format. Included in this issue of Must Reads: 6 keys to a flexible mobile device management strategy; why you need an enterprise app store; and Google points to the future of mobile. (Free registration required.)

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