Google Chromebooks: More Mobile Device Management, DaaS

Google Chromebooks: More Mobile Device Management, DaaS

Several Google Chromebook enhancements, announced today, include mobile device management (MDM) and desktop as a service (DaaS) capabilities that are worth your attention. For managed services providers (MSPs), the Google Chromebook developments provide new clues about how you'll manage mobile customer workforces, thin clients and cloud-centric computers going forward.

First, a refresher course: Google Chromebooks are web-centric notebooks that run Google's Chrome OS. Introduced about a year ago, Chromebooks are available for a flat monthly fee to schools and businesses -- sort of like Hardware as a Service (HaaS). Available from Acer and Samsung, I don't think Chromebooks have been big sellers. But Google seems determined to promote Chromebooks, and Samsung today expanded its lineup to offer a so-called Chromebox -- a home or business desktop that resembles a Mac Mini.

Google promotes Chromebooks through online resellers (Amazon, New Egg) and through channel partners.

The latest Chrome OS release, meanwhile, includes some MDM-related updates. Glenn Wilson, product manager, Chrome for business, says the new Chrome Os features so-called Zero-touch deployment. Wilson stated in a blog post:

"Today, most businesses and schools require a very manual and often cumbersome process to deploy computers. In contrast, you can remotely set up Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, and manage users, apps and policies across a fleet of devices via a web-based console. This ease of setup and deployment results in a total cost of ownership for Chromebooks that’s less than half of that of traditional PCs."
For instance, MSPs and channel partners can now use Google's management software to:
  • push network settings and auto-enroll a device for management;
  • automatically configure the device with designated apps, networks and settings;
  • control the frequency of OS updates;
  • receive reports on device usage.
That sort of sounds like a classic RMM (remote monitoring and management) tool. But here's the twist: Google is selling lifetime Chromebook management and support for $150 per device for businesses and $30 per device for schools. The support service lasts for the supported life of the device -- I guess that means "a long time" though I don't have exact timing criteria.

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