Have you taken a good look at a Google Chromebook?
In case you’re unaware of exactly what a Chromebook is, it is basically a simple laptop running a basic Linux operating system that exists primarily to run the Google Chrome Web browser. Samsung and Acer manufactured the first Chromebook products, but both Hewlett Packard and Lenovo are also beginning to make them. Chrome based desktops are also available, known as “Chromeboxes.”
Chromebooks have limited internal storage and offline capabilities. Fundamentally, they are designed for use while connected to the Internet. As such, they are typically very inexpensive. At the time of writing, a Samsung Chromebook goes for as low as under $200.
Many people dismiss Chromebooks as not being “proper” laptops. It’s fair to argue that these people are missing the point. In an age of Software as a Service and widespread Web-based systems, there are definitely places for such machines – and one of those places is within business environments.
There are many people with company laptops who could, fairly easily, do all of their work from within a Web browser.
Google Apps (and, indeed, Microsoft’s Office 365) allow users to access word processer and spreadsheet functions from within a browser. Many companies store documents in the cloud. When it comes to email, most corporate messaging systems are available from a browser. In the case of Microsoft Outlook, the Outlook Web App offers functionality almost as rich as its desktop equivalent. Furthermore, many companies use cloud-based databases or CRM systems.
With all this in mind, companies with teams of remote or mobile workers facing a decision between issuing fully-fledged laptops or inexpensive Chromebooks, really should give the latter option serious consideration.
You’re probably wondering what’s in it for you, as an MSP? For a start, Chromebooks give you a new option to offer to your clients. You are sure to surprise and impress customers if you can suggest an inexpensive, managed fleet of sleek laptops at an unforeseen low cost.
Using Chromebooks also has benefits in terms of data protection and information security. By restricting user functionality and ensuring data isn’t stored locally, you reduce risk and lessen the worries associated with loss and theft.
Google also offers a comprehensive management console that allows you to administer groups of Chromebooks to a detailed degree. You can finely control the functionality users may access – preventing them, for example, using some or all of the growing range of Chromebook apps.
You may have dismissed the idea of Chromebooks for business. If so, perhaps you should look again. You probably have at least one or two clients where Chromebooks would work for certain groups of home or remote workers. Identify them, build a managed service around it, and make profit – what could be simpler?