Chromebooks and the Cloud

Google’s initial venture into the laptop market with the Chromebook last year saw limited welcome from the consumer market, which Google is hoping to address with the launch of Chromebook 5 and Chromebox – an internet connected box which is attached to a monitor. The new products, made by Samsung, promise to be faster, lighter and more capable than previous models, but this may still not be enough to satisfy consumers. This is for the most part due to the necessity of an internet connection to work on the machines, as all data is stored in the cloud.

However, should Google look towards the enterprise market, then Chromebooks are a great solution for businesses; not only are they relatively low-cost, but they are perfectly positioned for use with cloud services such as GoCloud’s hosted desktops.

As the machines are already quite ‘bare-boned’ and no data is physically stored on them, they make for great ‘thin clients’ for use by employees and can cut down the costs of kitting out every new employee with a new workstation.

With a hosted desktop, companies don’t have worry about the main downside which is accredited to Google’s OS, namely that you can only create and edit Google-based apps such as Gmail, Docs and such like and even then, you have to have an internet connection. There is no doubt that these apps are lacking in functionality when compared to those made by companies such as Microsoft, but with hosted desktops, you can add a huge amount of apps which are relevant to your industry.

The idea behind Chromebooks is a simple one; according to a report by the Guardian, Linus Upson, Google’s Engineering Vice President, said that the basic premise is based on the idea that sooner or later we will all be using lightweight terminals which allow access to everything we have stored online. This is all accessible via a superfast Wi-Fi connection and all computers will eventually rely on the web for most of their functionality.

Whilst this concept has not quite reached fruition, it’s not as far-fetched as it would have sounded a decade ago, thanks to the interest in all things cloud and the updated technology that goes with it.

Google’s latest answer to laptops and life in the cloud has even been given better connectivity, it now comes with both Wi-Fi and 3G, to ensure that users can access content whenever they are in an area with 3G coverage or a Wi-Fi connection. However, Upson concedes that consumers would still prefer more offline capability and says that this is something that Google needs to keep working on.

But does this apply to the enterprise market – not really with hosted desktops, although Google do need to continue making improvements in order to compete with Intel’s Ultrabooks, which are currently somewhat more expensive.

One of the beauties of a Chromebook is that it has the ability to, and does, update itself frequently with the latest software and security updates, cutting down on the IT department’s workload.

Google’s laptop certainly isn’t for everyone and personally, I wouldn’t buy one for personal use as I like to be able to access my stuff at all times. But for business purposes, the Chromebook could help to further drive down IT costs, alongside cloud services. The cloud is becoming well-known for being the most cost-effective way for firms to manage their data; not only is it flexible and cost-efficient, it’s also an excellent way to fully secure data in a way that many companies are still failing to carry out.

This is because for the most part, SMEs especially don’t implement disaster recovery plans, still perform physical backups and have found a lot of technology to be beyond their means in the past. However, this is something which is changing and is sure to pick up even more speed in the future, as the financial and efficiency benefits become clearer to even the biggest luddites in business.

Whilst the Chromebook 5 may not be the most popular machine on the market, at £379 it’s certainly not the most expensive. Add this to the cost and benefits of a GoCloud hosted desktop and many businesses could find themselves in the cloud without the need for laying out considerable sums of cash.