Google is partnering with Citrix Systems and VMware to bring enterprise applications to Chromebooks, something the search giant sees as crucial to getting companies to loosen their grasp on Windows.
Chrome was built with Web applications in mind, but there are still plenty of enterprise applications that aren't delivered online. To bridge the gap, Citrix is working on Receiver For Chrome, a new version of its desktop virtualization software that runs in the browser and lets customers run their Windows applications on Chromebooks via the cloud.
Citrix Receiver acts as a front door for enterprise applications stored on XenDesktop and XenApp servers in the customer's data center, delivering them to notebooks, tablets and mobile devices.
Citrix Receiver For Chrome, currently in beta and slated for launch this summer, will do the same for Chromebooks, Google's new Web optimized PCs, according to Gordon Payne, senior vice president and general manager of Citrix's Desktop Division.
Payne says his company has plenty of relevant experience in delivering enterprise applications to Google Chromebooks. "For the past 10 years we've been lifting apps up off the desktop, centralizing them in the data center and delivering them as a service," he said.
Citrix is looking forward to introducing Chromebooks to its customer base, Payne said. During the Q&A, Payne was asked how this might affect Citrix's Windows business, a fair question since Citrix is one of Microsoft's largest partners.
"Users should be able to use whatever device makes sense to them," Payne responded. "Bring Your Own Device feeds into this philosophy. Chromebooks are a compelling argument for a new class of hardware, and we at Citrix love diversity."
VMware, meanwhile, is building a similar version of VMware View that works in the browser, Rajen Sheth, group product manager for Chrome For Business, said in the Q&A. While Citrix has a timetable for its release of Receiver For Chrome, VMware is still in the midst of working on its implementation, Sheth said. VMware did not have a representative at the Q&A.
The virtualization partnerships show that Google is stepping up its efforts to crack into enterprise accounts. Most companies can switch 75 percent of their users to Chromebooks today by using Web applications and virtualization, Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome, said in a Wednesday keynote at Google I/O in San Francisco.
Sheth echoed this and said Google is seeing interest from a wide range of companies. " A lot of organizations that aren't even in the cloud right now are interested in this model," said Sheth. Other companies like Groupon and Appirio have decided to keep all their IT operations in the cloud and have nothing behind the firewall. These companies, too, are potential Chromebook customers, he added.
Google believes it has found an answer to the challenges of desktop management, and its message here is dovetailing with that of virtualization players that offer similar benefits. Potential Chromebook customers might be wary of Google's lack of enterprise experience, but the Citrix and VMware partnerships could help assuage these concerns.