Is Google’s Chromebook Enterprise Ready?

Is Google’s Chromebook Enterprise Ready?
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Identity Management Support	Google Apps Directory Sync  Printing	Google Cloud Print  Networking	IPSec (L2TP), OpenVPN, WebVPN (or similar)  Wireless 	WPA with 802.1x is supported  3G	Verizon (CDMA) Multi-Factor Authentication	Google Authenticator  MigratiIdentity Management Support Google Apps Directory Sync Printing Google Cloud Print Networking IPSec (L2TP), OpenVPN, WebVPN (or similar) Wireless WPA with 802.1x is supported 3G Verizon (CDMA) Multi-Factor Authentication Google Authenticator Migrati

Today? Google's Chromebook is not enterprise ready. Three to Five years from now? Yes.

Chromebook Today

Chromebook can dominate certain verticals, such as the Education (K-12) market, Non-Profits and the consumer market today. Why? 

The value proposition is strong for the Education market; a cost-effective hardware platform ($200 per device with free Google Apps or $25-$30 monthly rental fee) supported by a large free suite of services (Gmail, Drive, Calendar, etc.), all managed by one web interface. These markets have limited resources for dedicated IT staff and are looking for something inexpensive and elegant. That’s exactly what Google Apps with Chromebook delivers. 

ChromeBook Reality

Can Chromebook support a Fortune 500 company with hundreds of thousands of employees that have different roles and functions, supporting hundreds of vendor custom 3rd party packages that run on Windows only? No. Chrome (in 2012) cannot support all the apps and configuration requirements. A company would need to invest in a Citrix platform, terminal services, set up specialized printing, and possibly change remote access mechanisms (VPN) [Details below]. It’s would be a sizeable investment; not to mention additional IT admins for a transition project, and supporting yet another platform. 

ChromeBook The Future

The industry writing is on the wall, call it what you want, SaaS, “the Cloud,” ASP, etc. but 3rd party solutions provided via a web browser are here to stay.  Chromebook can provide fast and secure access to any HTML5 application; everything from Healthcare EHR (Electronic Health Records) to architecture drawing software like AutoDesk. The days of desktop-only software are coming to an end; vendors see this and are all moving to SaaS.  That means vendor lock-in (on the desktop) will fade with the years, bringing down the walls of Win32 applications and providing a larger market for Chromebook (and others).

In some ways, Chromebook is the dream of the Cloud. One device, one browser, and the world is your oyster. Well the world is imperfect, and customers expect to be able to useFlash and Java to run their businesses, so unless the world is rid of these plug-ins, and others, Google must hedge their bets.  For Chromebook the hedge is using RDP, VNC, SSH and others to access systems. This hedge could be a very successful strategy for Google. Apple created a controversy by not supporting Flash on iOS in 2010 and has been successful in its efforts to push HTML5 standards instead.

The Desktop Isn’t Closing its Doors

Windows PCs and Macs aren’t going away anytime soon. Professionals within the enterprise and SMB will require a PC or Mac for the foreseeable future -- video editors need Final Cut Pro, PMs need MS Project, Accountants need QuickBooks, software developers need Eclipse, and so forth.  Chrome doesn’t have a direct answer for them. 

Mikhael Felker is an IT pro who has worked in Defense, Healthcare, High-Tech and Non-Profits. He teaches, writes, and speaks at numerous Southern California venues about technology. 

See here to check out all his Tom's IT Pro articles.

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