Synnex Wednesday said it formed a new partnership with Google that makes it the first distributor to offer the Chrome Management Console to channel partners.
Previously, the Chrome Management Console, which is a web-based tool that allows solution providers to deploy and manage thousands of Chromebooks, was only available through Google. But the new distribution agreement enables Synnex to bring the Chrome Management Console to North American solution providers, along with additional value-added services and the requisite training.
"We think this is a big move for us," said Eddie Franklin, vice president of sales, Public Sector and Vertical Markets at Synnex. "We started talking with Google some time ago, and we identified a role we thought Synnex could fill in expanding the Chromebook channel, and we built a turnkey solution for the Chrome Management Console."
That solution includes "white glove" services and support from Synnex for both partners and their clients, such as pre-sales consultation around Chromebooks, predeployment services for networks, and an "End-User Concierge Desk" for additional technical support. Synnex is even providing on-site teacher training around Chrome for K-12 customers.
Chromebooks have seen strong adoption in the education market, and Franklin said solution providers with K-12 need to get up to speed on Chromebooks and the Chrome Management Console or risk losing their business to competitors.
"If you're in the education space and you're not having a conversation with your school district around Chrome," he said, "then you'd better start because someone else will."
Kelly Brooks, general manager at Tech Nation, a Synnex VAR, said that his company hasn't seen a lot of demand for the Chromebook in college-level education, but that there seems to be a lot of demand in the K-12 markets.
However, despite the low price of the Chromebook compared to other laptops, he said that he has seen many schools struggle with finding the funds for the laptops. Especially in light of the distribution partnership, Brooks said he hoped a large company like Google would be able to help bridge the connection between the need and the school's budgets.
"The concept is great. Now it's all about making the connection with the funding in the more urban environments ... but the need is there. I don’t know if the funding is there. If we could make the connection ... [Chromebook] would be in every school," Brooks said. "It's absolutely necessary. The questions is, can people find the money to be able to afford it."
But Synnex isn't limiting its Chromebook push to just education clients; Franklin said the device's ease of use, affordability and cloud capabilities are appealing to a wide variety of customers. "It's not just K-12," he said. "We see potential for Chromebooks in both the public sector and private sector for anyone who needs a mobile device solution."
Synnex currently offers Chromebooks from Acer, HP, Samsung and Lenovo. In order to sell the Chrome Management Console, VARs will need to be certified by Google. Franklin said Synnex will be providing additional training around the console for solution providers who aren't familiar with Google's OS and Chromebook form factor.
The Chrome Management Console is currently available from Synnex.
Sarah Kuranda contributed to this story.
PUBLISHED JAN. 8, 2014