Since Apple first launched its app store, a number of companies have borrowed the concept. You could argue that app stores are rapidly becoming the primary distribution channel for software.
But according to Rackspace, not all app stores are created equal. The provider of cloud computing and managed hosting services is opening its own app store, called AppMatcher.com, today.
Andy Schroepfer, vice president of enterprise strategy at Rackspace, says that as a cloud computing platform, Rackspace is in the best position to provide a neutral place to buy applications. Obviously, the more than 1,000 applications that ISVs have agreed to host on Rackspace data centers will be part of the app store. But Schroepfer says that even vendors that don't run their software on Rackspace data centers can be part of the Rackspace app store experience. Rackspace hopes that these companies will sign up to host their software at Rackspace data centers once they see the demand for their software from Rackspace customers.
Schroepfer says most app stores are managed by software vendors with third-party applications based around their software. Rackspace will be one of the few truly neutral app store environments on the Web, he said.
Of course, other providers of cloud computing services probably will go down the same path as they each roll out their self-service portals. But Schroepfer says Rackspace is borrowing some compatibility rating concepts from dating sites such as eHarmony to match customers with software that is most appropriate for company size, task at hand and vertical industry.
But the most significant element of the Rackspace app store may have nothing to do with the way software is acquired. Rather, the app store highlights all the applications that can run on a common set of IT infrastructure in the cloud, thereby reducing management and integration headaches. For these reasons, IT organizations will have a preferred cloud computing platform that they will want their ISV partners to embrace. And from an ISV perspective, that might make all the difference when deciding who's going to mind the app store.