Google is working hard to make its Chromebook more suited for the world of business. But does it make sense for your business? Would you as CIO add it to your company’s laptop collection?
Google announced that it is “taking a big step toward making it even easier for companies to select Chromebooks as their device of choice by announcing features specifically focused on improving identity, manageability, virtualization, performance and pricing.”
Here are the steps, according to the official Google for work blog:
Simplified and enhanced identity: “Single sign-on, a popular customer request, lets you log in with the same credentials and identity provider that you use in the rest of your organization. This feature uses the universal SAML standard and works with most of the major identity providers.”
Google also says it is adding multiple sign-in, which will allow users to switch securely between personal and work accounts on their Chromebooks. This makes the laptops more palatable as BYODs (bring your own devices). Some compare it to the Mac OS functionality in the same area.
Improved certificate management for wireless networks: “Businesses, schools and government institutions can now easily provision Chromebooks with client certificates to access 802.1X EAP-TLS wireless networks and mutual TLS protected web resources. Using the Admin Console, IT admins can pre-configure their secure networks, push certificate management extensions and pre-select certificates to be used with certain websites and networks.”
Expanded Chrome management for any device: Getting new workers or contractors provisioned with web apps on Chrome is now easier than ever. With the Admin Console, IT administrators can push a list of bookmarks and many other settings to signed-in workers on all platforms including mobile devices.
Improved virtualization options: “We’ve worked with virtualization partners like Citrix and VMware to expand the boundaries of what’s possible on Chromebooks. Recently, Citrix released a new Citrix Receiver optimized for Chromebooks, which provides more direct integration with Chromebooks and enables new features including seamless integration with Google Cloud Print; cut-and-paste between local and virtualized applications; better audio and video playback; improved license and application usage monitoring; and protection from end-to-end SSL connections.”
According to TechRepublic.com, “Two of Google’s strategic partners for virtualization on Chromebooks have been VMware and Citrix. Earlier this year, at VMware’s Partner Exchange, a partnership was announced between Google and VMware, centering around the use of VMware Horizon DaaS for Chromebooks. Google also recently partnered with VMware and NVIDIA to make it easier to build graphical intensive applications for Chromebooks.”
TechRepublic.com raises this issue, though. “While this is a great option for companies looking to make the transition and maintain access to legacy systems, it’s unclear how it will stack up to the recently announced Windows connected laptop, the HP Stream, which obviously runs Windows apps natively.”
Rich graphics experiences: “Chromebooks are perfect for web applications and they can support rich graphics and powerful 3-D applications. Google recently teamed with Nvidia and VMware and announced at VMWorld technology to speed the delivery of graphics-heavy virtualized applications to Chromebooks, allowing you to seamlessly run 3-D modeling and simulation applications often associated with heavier hardware.”
More flexibility on pricing: “Starting today, customers can purchase all of these advanced features, management, and support through a new annual subscription option of $50 per device per year. This new pricing option is available first in the US and Canada, with more regions to follow. We’re also supporting licensing portability, which means if you lose or replace a Chromebook you can easily apply your existing license to a new device.”
That initially sounds like a bargain to some because it replaces the previous $199 license fee. However, it’s not as good a deal if your organization kept its computers for more than four years. Then again, companies keeping computers that long probably hadn’t adapted to Chromebooks anyway.