D&H Distributing on Wednesday began selling Google's Chrome Management Console, a web-based tool that allows solution providers to deploy and manage thousands of Chromebooks.
In an interview with CRN, Rob Eby, vice president of purchasing for the Americas at D&H, Harrisburg, Pa., said the Chrome Management Console will open new business opportunities for VARs, especially ones focused on the small and medium business and education markets.
"When you look across the landscape of our SMB resellers, they list education as one of the top verticals they do business in," Eby said. "This gives an opportunity to offer a solution [from Google] in addition to Microsoft."
D&H is the second distributor to sell Chrome Management Console, following Synnex, which began selling it in January.
The education market is one of Google's big targets for Chrome Management Console, which lets IT administrators to manage anywhere from 10 to 10,000 Chromebooks from a single management console, Eby said.
Schools "want to deploy as many devices as they can and give them to students," said Eby. This is especially true for schools that bought Windows XP netbooks and are now looking to upgrade because Microsoft is no longer supporting the operating system, he said.
With Chrome Management Console, administrators can also control network and Wi-Fi access, customize device features, pre-install Chrome apps, assign user groups, and document device usage, said Eby.
"This allows them to control deployment of the Chromebooks that are out there," Eby said. "They can allow to go to certain sites while in the class room [and] at the end of the school year, they can wipe them clean."
Google Chromebooks are gaining momentum in the channel and Eby said they'll continue to be a big focus for distributors and VARs.
Eby declined to comment on how many Chromebooks D&H has sold, saying only that sales have been "going very well" and have accelerated over the past two quarters.
However, not all solution providers in the SMB space are big fans of Chromebooks. Richard Trahant, president of Peabody, Massachusetts-based Land Computer, told CRN he thinks Chromebooks are "toys" and has no interest in selling them.
"The corporate market in SMB is not really interested in that set up," said Trahant. "People are getting more finicky, especially in the corporate market, because they need capable apps or they need a Windows-based system to run their business applications."
Another big issue customers have with Chromebooks is that they have to be connected to the Internet in order to access apps, Trahant said.
For these and other reasons, education customers aren't showing much interest in Chromebooks, according to Trahant. "They're not gaining any speed with us," said Trahant. "We sold 600 iPads to a small parochial school, and [other schools] are more interested in iPads over other types of tablets. Chromebooks have not even been mentioned."
Meanwhile, to bolster marketing efforts around Chromebook Management Console, D&H will supplement a Partner Services template to bring customizable marketing materials to VARs, said Eby.
"This lets resellers pull our marketing material and customize it with certain fields," said Eby. "A lot of our smaller resellers don't always have time to do the marketing, so we're trying to make that easier by giving them assets directly from a vendor to add to their own tools."