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Chromebooks Gaining Enterprise Niche, Forrester Finds
Chromebooks Gaining Enterprise Niche, Forrester Finds

By Barry Levine
July 30, 2013 11:39AM

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A key factor driving enterprise interest in Chromebooks is their low maintenance, since the apps and data are kept in the cloud. Forrester J.P. Gownder noted in a blog posting accompanying the report that Chromebooks "can be configured for a new user in under 15 minutes," they sell for as little as $199, and any Chromebook can be used by any employee.
 



Are cloud-based Chromebooks gaining a foothold in the enterprise? A new report from Forrester Research says yes.

The report by analyst J.P. Gownder surveyed more than 1,200 IT decision-makers in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany and the U.S. While acknowledging that Chromebooks will not replace all or even most Windows PCs, Macs, or tablets, the report found there is a beachhead of interest among enterprises.

It noted Chromebooks can be appropriate for companies that are willing to segment their workforces by offering the devices to some classes of workers, and that are adopting Gmail or Google apps. Benefits of the cloud-based laptops include a radical reduction in maintenance time, encouragement of collaborative computing, and a relatively low pricetag for each device.

'Under 15 Minutes'

Twenty-eight percent of respondents in the Forrester survey said they had at least some interest in Chromebooks, including 4 percent who are already using Chromebooks, another 4 percent who expect to do so, and 16 percent who have expressed some interest. The balance of the 28 percent -- 4 percent -- were managers reporting they had employees who are interested in the devices. The other 72 percent had no interest in Chromebooks.

A key factor driving enterprise interest in Chromebooks is their low maintenance, since the apps and data are kept in the cloud. Gownder noted in a blog posting accompanying the report that Chromebooks "can be configured for a new user in under 15 minutes," they sell for as little as $199, and any Chromebook can be used by any employee.

"It's time to take a fresh look at whether Chromebooks might fill a legitimate computing niche for your company," he wrote.

He added that, if an IT department holds "specific goals, such as lowering support costs, simplifying deployment of devices, ensuring device uptime, or projecting software changes quickly into the workforce, Chromebooks can help support those initiatives."

'Grow Up' for Enterprise

Laura DiDio, an analyst with industry research firm Information Technology Intelligence Consulting, said that Chromebooks' niche could grow, but "Google's tech service and support has to grow up for the enterprise."

She added that the devices fit the use case profile of certain scenarios, but there is not a "big stampede" among businesses to use Chromebooks, in part because "Google has not yet proven itself in the enterprise" the way Apple, for instance, has proven itself for reliability and tech support in schools. Apple's credibility in schools, DiDio pointed out, has been a major factor in the acceptance of the iPad in the education sector.

Earlier this month, a report from the NPD Group noted that Chromebooks have taken between 20 percent and 25 percent of the U.S. market for under-$300 laptops in the last eight months, and are now the fastest growing segment of the PC industry based on price. This counters the decline of PCs in general, whose sales are expected to drop nearly 8 percent this year, according to IDC.
 

Tell Us What You Think
Comment:

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James Kissel:

Posted: 2013-08-04 @ 7:28am PT
I'm surprised that Laura DiDio would provide ***any*** favorable comments about ***any*** Linux based device give her past record of comments on Linux vs Microsoft support costs while at the Yankee Group.

PST:

Posted: 2013-08-03 @ 3:44pm PT
@Mac Jt
Apparently Citrix receiver works perfectly with Chromebooks, but it requires installation of a version of Receiver for Chromebooks, because Chromebooks can't have apps installed on them. A lot of IT guys do not seem to be smart enough or seem to be too lazy to figure this out.

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/chromebook-central/EgCQddO5REE
http://support.citrix.com/proddocs/topic/receiver/receivers-chrome-os.html

Ericom's Access Now products work differently and are easier to install. As I understand, Ericom's products allow login to a server which then accesses a Windows desktop on another server running Windows terminal server using RDP and delivers the session by streaming it out using HTML5 to the Chromebook or any other device. This is easier to install and manage.

Disclosure - I have no connection or financial interest in either Google, Citrix, or Ericom.

Mac Jt:

Posted: 2013-08-01 @ 6:57am PT
I am an active Chromebook user and I just cannot believe that Google/ Citrix havent ironed out the issues regarding ICA files and connecting to Citrix servers!

How can you claim to be Enterprise ready when such a basic requirement isn't met?

Companies routinely refuse to configure the complicated Storefront requirement for Chromebooks to be able to connect, why not make it simple and effortless.

Believe me, I am just waiting to throw my Windows laptop out the window (no pun intended) if this works.

Adam:

Posted: 2013-07-31 @ 7:05am PT
As Google and its hardware partners continue to improve the Chromebook, more businesses will begin to view it as a viable option for the enterprise, and not just for personal use.

But even with all the improvements, some companies might still be held back from considering Chromebooks because they still need access to Windows applications. Besides MS Office applications, there are many other applications (even in-house ones) that aren't cloud-enabled or replaceable with Google Apps.

One way around this is to leverage HTML5 technology that allows for browser-based access to applications. For example, Ericom's AccessNow HTML5 RDP client allows Chromebook users to connect to Windows applications running on Terminal Server or VDI virtual desktops, and run those applications or even full desktops in a browser tab.

There's nothing to install on the Chromebook (the HTML5 browser is already there), which makes life easy for IT staff. You just click on a URL, enter your login credentials and your Windows application or desktop appears in the browser.

For an online, interactive demo, open your Chrome browser and visit:
http://www.ericom.com/demo_AccessNow.asp?URL_ID=708

Please note that I work for Ericom



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