Home > Uncategorized > Google Unveils New Chrome Operating System for Business Customers

Google Unveils New Chrome Operating System for Business Customers

bits_mainBy QUENTIN HARDY AUGUST 13, 2015 4:21 PM August 13, 2015

Dell introduced new Chromebooks and management software.

The company on Thursday showed off changes it had made to Chrome, its operating system for business computing, aimed at enabling companies to run most of their legacy software applications. Dell announced new Chromebooks, as the system laptops are called, and management software to work with the product.

Not incidentally, the changes will make it easier to move a company that is currently using applications written for Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Amazon Web Services, which also offers a type of business computing, Amazon WorkSpaces, has yet to develop such efforts.

Previously, Google has stressed the efficiency gained from making things like documents and spreadsheets in cloud computing-based systems. Benefits include better security, because there’s less data on the local laptop, and easier management, because a single location can keep an eye on people in the office and working from a coffeeshop.

After five years of selling its vision, however, Google has found that many companies have way too many applications that can’t easily move into the cloud: They either need custom upgrades, or have to be managed inside a so-called virtualized computing system, which acts as a kind of translation intermediary between the old and new software.

“About a year ago we were at a cement company with 3,000 people and 15,000 legacy applications,” said Rajen Sheth, who runs the Chrome project for businesses. “It was kind of an ‘ah-ha’ moment for us.” He did not specify the company.

The changes in the Chrome operating system made it possible for Dell to build a kind of virtualization that the average cement company’s tech department can use, along with provisioning and managing individual machines with a series of drop-down menus.

“Many companies have 30-year-old applications,” said Kirk Schell, who runs Dell’s Chromebook business. “We have to take away the link from an application and any specific device.”

Dell’s new Chromebooks, which will cost $399 to $799, will go on sale Sept. 17. Mr. Schell said Dell would first target the United States market and later sell the product overseas.

The changes in the Chrome OS will also make it possible for someone using a Chromebook to get inside a corporate system without the applications actually residing in the cloud. That doesn’t matter much for performance, but affects licensing costs.

It should also make it easier for developers to build new applications that can work in a range of computing systems.

Besides Dell, other companies like Citrix and VMware are working with the new Chrome OS changes for broader virtualization. Other Chromebook makers, including Hewlett-Packard and Acer, are expected to incorporate the capabilities, either on their own or in collaboration. At least 11 companies make Chromebooks, along with Google.

Companies like Hewlett-Packard might take to the new virtualization method, but at a cost: They, along with IBM and others, have expensive consulting businesses in updating older apps for the online world.

Google, which this week announced plans to remake itself into a kind of technology-based holding company, still makes almost all of its money from putting ads against what consumers do online.

The Chrome for business effort is part of Google’s longer-term effort at selling businesses more applications, and services like big data analysis once they have lots of data stored in the cloud.

Mr. Sheth noted that of four billion people going to work worldwide, some 700 million use a personal computer, while just 200 million are using mobile devices. There are over one billion people with smartphones, and Google would like them using those as work products.

“There is a new world shaping up, the question is how we get people to it,” he said. “If we can make the cloud and mobile devices the computing platform, there are many more things we can do.”

He added, “Ten years down the line we’ll be a lot closer.”

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