Enterprises should prioritize managing application lifecycles due to reduced supportability timeframes of applications and their components. With the “install-and-forget” mentality now outdated, setting up an automated plan to keep applications patched is crucial for maintaining security.
A full application packaging cycle can be significantly automated. The approach should be gradual, with not all processes needing to be automated at once.
App Definition Datastore
A place to track applications, store assets, documentation, and status is necessary. This could be a loosely organized collection of folders, files, and spreadsheets. The priority here is to have a well-defined place that’s also easily accessible to the team.
An automated mechanism to discover and evaluate vendor updates is needed. Tools like Flexera, Evergreen, Chocolatey Software, and GitHub Winget CLI can be helpful in achieving this. However, this aspect should be a lower priority compared to Install-Configure and Packaging processes.
The goal should be to fully automate the installation and pre-configuration of every application. Resources like AppDeployNews, Silent Install HQ, GitHub, and PowerShell module like PassiveInstall can aid this process. This should be a top priority.
Even with fully scripted install-configure, packaging can be necessary, particularly for enterprises using packaging as part of their deployment process. A fully automated packaging solution should be flexible enough to automate the pre-packaging effort to lay down dependencies. This should be the second priority, once Install-Configure scripting is ready.
Automating testing can reduce the validation process from weeks to just a day. While vendors like Rimo3 offer comprehensive lifecycle systems, alternatives like Microsoft’s Power Automate can be used for UAT-style testing of desktop apps. Automated testing should be a lower priority, important but should follow the other items.
The diminishing lifecycles of applications and the frameworks they rely on necessitate a shift in application management. A gradual move towards automation, as outlined in this post, can ensure applications are kept updated and secure. While it’s possible to adopt this fully for a select few applications, the list can be expanded over time. Automating Application Packaging and Patching by Rory Monahan offers further insight into this important aspect of enterprise IT management.