Google Chromebook Update Adds VPN, Virtualization To Mix


In a blog post, Rajen Sheth, group product manager for Chrome For Business, said the technology preview release of Citrix Receiver for Chrome OS will allow Chromebook customers to access their non Web-enabled applications through the use of virtualization.

"While most new applications will be built for the Web, we recognize that some users need to access desktop applications," Sheth said in the blog post.

Google has also beefed up Chrome OS security with support for Secure Wi-Fi (802.1X) and VPN, Sheth noted. The update adds support for L2TP over IPsec with PSK, and support for L2TP over IPsec with certificate-based authentication is "coming soon", according to Google's VPN support Web page.

Other improvements in the latest Chrome OS update include a 32 percent boost in resume time and support for Google Cloud Print’s Print to Docs feature, Sheth said.

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Chromebooks, which Google unveiled in May at its I/O developer conference, have been criticized for not offering users more control over file system, virus protection and hardware settings. These concerns have raised questions about Chromebooks' suitability for enterprise use, but Google channel partners are pleased with what they're seeing in the latest Chrome OS update.

"This is a win-win for the enterprise. A low-cost, always-on, mobile, hardware-as-a-service device with absolutely no critical data on it, combined with access to all key enterprise applications," said Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA Systems, a North Hollywood cloud solution provider.

Allen Falcon, CEO of Horizon Info Services, a Westborough, Mass.-based Google reseller, says the new features make Chromebooks ready for prime time in the enterprise. "I see schools moving quickly and businesses following close behind," he said. "We expect many businesses to start running pilots to see how existing applications and services run in the VPN and Citrix environments."

Chromebooks are Google's bid to remake the notebook PC in a way that has cloud computing oozing figuratively from every port. They also represent an ambitious bid by Google to steal market share away from the Windows PC monolith: At $28 per-user monthly, Chromebooks offer businesses a computing-as-a-service option they haven't had in the past.

Google still has a long way to go in getting enterprises to trust Chromebooks, but its partnerships with Citrix and VMware -- which is also working on a Receiver-type product for Chromebooks -- underscore the search giant's belief that virtualization can overcome barriers, both technical and psychological.