The new integration system makes the Chrome browser and Chrome OS devices more accessible for IT departments to implement with existing security, endpoint, authentication solutions, and other management solutions.
Enterprise partners can leverage a new framework for endpoint management, authentication, etc. Google Chrome OS exec John Solomon describes the new tools as a “plug and plays” solution. It lets other companies helm Chrome OS management functions like remote-wiping a Chromebook using BlackBerry Unified Endpoint Management or flagging malware downloads with Splunk. These types of management functions previously worked through the Google Admin console.
Google highlights how Chromebooks can work in “zero trust” corporate environments with its new Chrome Enterprise Connectors Framework.
Managing and enrolling Chrome OS devices in the enterprise will still rely on Google tools like Google Admin and Chrome Browser Cloud Management. But new tools like Chrome OS Data Controls give enterprises more options to allow or lock down actions like printing, screen capture, copy/paste, and other potential data loss situations. It might even give IT a better handle on buggy Chrome OS updates and is currently available through the Trusted Tester program.
Chromebooks have massively owned the education market compared to Windows PCs, Macs, and iPads. But with PC shipments down in the first quarter of this year, Google is looking to broaden its horizon — and that’s where getting severe for the enterprise comes in. Chrome OS is a curious platform that can run on lots of PC hardware and even Macs using Chrome OS Flex, can run Android apps but awkwardly exists alongside that OS, and can even run Windows VMs through Parallels.
Google touts Chrome OS as a platform that has “never had a reported successful ransomware attack or any evidence of a documented, successful virus attack” and plans to keep it that way with new partnerships. Intel vPro Enterprise for Chrome OS also protects systems, supporting both disk and memory encryption.
Chrome Enterprise, launched in 2017, includes Chrome devices, Chrome OS, Chrome Browser, and their management capabilities planned for business use. Companies can access the standard Chrome OS features and unlock advanced features for interaction with the Chrome Enterprise Upgrade. Standard features include sync bookmarks and browser extensions across the cloud, devices, native printing, remote desktop, multi-layered security, and automatic updates. Advanced features include unified endpoint management, advanced security protection, Active Directory integration, access to device guidelines and guest access, kiosk mode, Google Admin console, and safelists or delisting third-party apps managed on Google Play.
The education sector was an earlier adopter of Chrome OS, Chromebooks, and cloud-based computing. Chromebooks are widely used in classrooms. The benefits of cloud-based systems have been gaining an improved market share in other sectors, including financial services, healthcare, and retail. “The favor of cloud computing and cloud-based services spotlights how companies and business strategies have become both internet-enabled and dependent.” IT managers cite several benefits of the cloud that have motivated the move. Among them is advanced security, as data is not physically on a single machine that can be lost or stolen. Deploying and managing cloud-native devices is more accessible because no hardware and software upgrades or virus definition updates are needed, and OS and software patching is more straightforward. Simplified and centralized management decreases operational expenses.
Employees can securely access files and perform on any machine, improving the shareability of Chrome devices. In addition, Google’s Grab and Go program with Chrome Enterprise permits businesses deploying Chromebooks to provide employees entry to a bank of fully authorized computers that can be checked out and returned after some time.
In an early attempt to boost its enterprise offerings, Google unleashed Chromebox for Meetings in February 2014. Chromebox for Meetings is a gear for conference rooms containing a camera, a unit with a noise-canceling microphone and speakers, a Chromebox, and remote control. In addition, it supports Vidyo video conferences, Google Hangouts meetings, and conference calls from UberConference.
Several partners revealed Chromebox for Meetings models with Google, and in 2016 Google announced an all-in-one Chromebase for Meetings for smaller meeting rooms. Google targeted the consumer hardware need with the release of the Chromebook in 2011 and Chromebook Pixel in 2013 and sought the key to the enterprise market with the 2017 release of the Pixelbook. The second-generation Pixelbook was released in 2019. In 2021 there are several vendors selling all-in-one Chromebase devices.
Google has partnered on Chrome devices with several leading OEMs, including Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung.
In August 2019, Dell announced that two of its popular business-focused laptops would run Chrome OS and come with Chrome Enterprise Upgrade. The Latitude 5300 2-in-1 Chromebook Enterprise and Latitude 5400 Chromebook Enterprise resulted from a two-year partnership between Dell and Google. The machines come with a bundle of Dell’s cloud-based support services that would enable enterprise IT managers to deploy them in environments that also rely on Windows. In addition, the new laptop line “delivers the search giant’s Chrome OS operating system in a form tailored for security-conscious organizations.” Other OEMs that have launched devices with Chrome Enterprise Upgrade include Acer and HP.
With a broader range of hardware available, Chrome OS became an option for enterprises wishing to avoid migration to Windows 10 before Windows 7 support was discontinued by Microsoft.