One of the beautiful things about owning a Google Chromebook laptop is the surprising lack of maintenance involved. The browser is essentially the OS and you connect to applications via the cloud. Everything gets updated automatically. Easy, peasy right?
Well, it gets a bit more complicated when you bring a device into a mixed environment in the enterprise, and VMware announced a partnership with Google today to help control identity and access and set policies across the Chromebook line.
I can hear you saying, but isn’t that Google’s job? Indeed it is — or can be. The trouble is that large companies don’t to tend to use Chromebooks exclusively. When you are managing multiple devices that include Chrome OS along with others running Windows, OSX, iOS and Android, it suddenly gets a bit trickier to manage policy across all those OS types, says Sumit Dhawan, Senior VP and general manager for end user computing at VMware.
Using VMware’s Workspace One product, companies can control access, set policies and handle identity management all from a single environment across all of the supported operating systems. “Think about every stack. There is a vertical stack for every platform, but it becomes complex when the customer has heterogeneity in the environment. If you have a combination of [operating systems] the heterogeneity of enforcing identity and access becomes much more [difficult],” Dhawan told TechCrunch.
That’s because it forces both IT and end users to manage and navigate multiple systems. “We are providing a much more [unified] experience for end users from on-boarding to retiring devices, communicating with IT, password resets — all of things they do across devices while interacting with IT,” he said.
This kind of integration actually extends beyond managing across devices to allowing users to access a variety of applications including web or cloud-based applications and virtualized applications from Chrome OS (or whatever the OS happens to be).
VMware was hearing from customers that they wanted to extend that ability to Chromebooks in the same way they were managing these other devices. “I think customers were telling us that the Chromebook was the only environment where they still had to manage and secure the devices in a silo.”
Numbers from IDC suggest Chromebooks are gaining traction in business. In fact, by 2018 they expect that 25 percent of Fortune 500 companies will have them being supported by IT. VMware is simply giving customers what they want.
Google’s Rajen Sheth, senior director of product Management for Android and Chrome for Business and Education says this is really the beginning of a broader partnership with VMware that is just beginning to play out.
“We’ve started a virtualization stack. We’ve worked with VMware to optimize applications on Chrome OS, both the Android and virtualized apps. We’re working with them on deeper integrations. It’s just the beginning of the process,” he said.
Sheth says they hope eventually to be able to bring a variety of applications into the Chromebook, whether a Chrome, Android or even a virtualized app and expose those in the Chrome OS Launcher with Workspace One providing that ability to set policy across those apps.