Why Chromebooks do have a role in your enterprise

Don't ignore Chromebooks because they're not the right solution for each and every user in your company

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3. All apps that some users need can run in a browser

Bott rightly calls into question whether a Chromebook is appropriate for everyone in your enterprise. A Chromebook isn't going to be relevant for your programmers or graphic designers, as Bott calls out, but could your knowledge workers -- or some portion of them -- use a Chromebook? Absolutely.

Bott also calls into question the value of using a desktop virtualization technology, like Citrix, to provide access to native applications that a Chromebook can't support. However, the ability to use Citrix reads to me like a simple way for Google to deflect IT check-off questions versus something that a typical Chromebook adopter would actually do. A Chromebook is for using the Web, not running Office over a tunneled connection.

4. Universal connectivity and offline access are not a pipe dream

Bott asks, "Do you really want to bet the productivity of your entire workforce on having reliable, fast Internet access everywhere?" But most knowledge workers spend considerable time at the office, coffee shops, or home -- all places where an Internet connection is readily available.

Additionally, Google had already announced that offline access to Google Apps is forthcoming. It's only a matter of time before other Web applications use HTML5's local storage capability to offer offline functionality.

Bott also mentions the issue of a user needing access to documents stored on a server somewhere, when they are unable to find an Internet connection. The ability to store, say, the last 50 documents viewed in Google Apps on the 16GB of a Chromebook's local storage would be a sensible response from Google to that need.

5. Understand the security implications of using Chromebooks

Google claims that its sandboxing, encryption, and recovery capabilities provide a higher degree of security than current PC environments, but Bott asks whether you're ready to bet your company on Google's security feature claims. He also questions whether you want your company's business data stored on Google's servers.

These are valid concerns. However, these concerns apply to any corporate use of a Web-based technology, be it Salesforce.com, SugarCRM, or Amazon EC2.

Not ever company is willing to trust its data to Google. But it might trust some information to Google -- or to other Web app providers or even its own data center, from which it may offer its own Web apps. First, decide which users would be the best targets for a Chromebook, then consider the data they access, create, and store before making your trust decision on security -- treating it as an all-or-nothing proposition is a false choice.

Evaluate Chromebooks with a long-term view

Consider Chromebooks as a way to make your IT environment more flexible and responsive to users. Don't ignore Chromebooks because they're not the right solution for each and every user in your company. Pick a set of users whose needs align with the benefits of Chromebooks and consider a trial rollout. After all, isn't that what IT is supposed to do with any new technology?

Follow me on Twitter at SavioRodrigues. I should state: "The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions."

This article, "Why Chromebooks do have a role in your enterprise," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Savio Rodrigues's Open Sources blog and follow the latest developments in open source at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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