VMware teams up with Google to drive enterprise adoption of Chromebooks

Google has added VMware support to Chrome devices for Windows app integration as they attempt to bolster their attractiveness to the enterprise.


 Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

Google continues running headfirst toward the enterprise. Google recently announced an ASUS Chromebox geared toward businesses, a Chromebox for meetings, and now VMware for Chromebooks.

The announcement was made at VMware's Partner Exchange and explained in a blog post by Rajen Sheth, director of product management for Chrome. Sheth wrote that users now can manage Windows desktops from a Chromebook.

"Today, customers can fully embrace the cloud with Chromebooks using VMware Horizon DaaS," Sheth wrote. "VMware and Google are working together to make the migration of legacy applications even easier, by using the HTML5/Blast experience from Chromebooks. This means you can work with Chromebooks and connect to a Windows experience running VMware Horizon View."

This addresses one of the major concerns of enterprises that claim that the main risk of a move to Chrome devices in the enterprise is lack of support for legacy Windows apps. According to David Johnson, a principal analyst at Forrester, now that users can hold onto the familiarity of Windows, it might make the transition easier.

"By partnering with VMware, Chromebook users can still have access to a Windows desktop environment as long as they're connected to a reliable, high-speed network," Johnson said. "For workers where this is a viable option, companies can benefit from lower endpoint device costs while still preserving access to a well-managed Windows desktop environment and apps hosted either in their own datacenter or in the cloud."

According to research done by Forrester in Q3 of 2013, 52 percent of IT professionals who were surveyed said that implementing or expanding the use of desktop virtualization, thin client, and application streaming technologies is a high or critical priority. But, of that same survey group, only 8 percent said they were planning to implement within the next 12 months.

While Chromebooks still maintain a somewhat negative image as an enterprise option, they do give IT personnel the opportunity to move away, if even slightly, from constant imaging and maintenance. One thing is certain—Google still needs to build trust with the enterprise. According to Gartner Research Director Gunnar Berger, this announcement might give them a better standing with the enterprise.

"Without a clear strategy here, Google has a major uphill battle to get enterprises to embrace their technology. The announcement today is a powerful statement for both companies, VMware is a trusted brand in the enterprise which is what Google needs, and Google is a major player in mobility (Android) which is something VMware is trying to showcase, and it's why you saw the Airwatch CEO on stage directly after this announcement," Berger said.

While the announcement does bolster Google's trustworthiness with potential enterprise customers, it is not a magic bullet. Google still needs to address the other enterprise concerns of Chrome devices, such as productivity when you have a poor Internet connection, privacy concerns, lack of customizability, and control over computing experience.

Berger also mentioned that he doesn't think there will be many companies moving from old XP machines directly to Chrome devices. But, the VMware announcement does give companies the option to move to a Chrome device without "letting go" of Windows.

"It's important to note that enterprises are most likely not moving from XP to Chrome OS. What they could do is move from XP to an SBC/VDI/DaaS solution, which are all still Windows based options," Berger said. "Supporting these models enable the enterprise to support any device (BYO) including Chrome OS. So Chrome OS won't necessarily pull share away from Windows from the app standpoint, but it has potential to be used as an endpoint client."

No matter what happens—whether the VMware-Google connection proves itself as a viable enterprise option, or meets a deadpan reception—this latest move is further evidence that Google is quickening its pace in targeting the enterprise.

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Conner Forrest is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. He covers Google and startups and is passionate about the convergence of technology and culture.


You still have to license VMware Horizon, plus you have to license the Windows OS that runs in Horizon.  So you're still better off just buying a Windows desktop.


Chromebook or Chromebox? Chromebooks generally have small screens.

Still brings the bigger question of how does a company actually support let's say 200 Chromebooks. In a Windows network, you log in with your account from a domain control. I guess on a Chromebook, someone will probably have to create an account for you first and then again if you switch to another Chromebook [and any others]. Repeat over and over again for other users.

Use the same account for all users? That would be against PCI DSS, SOX, and many other regulations. Then how to enforce users not to do certain on their computer [i.e. change critical settings].

Even if you do connect to a Windows that user still need a Windows account [plus one for every user who connects]. So now you need to set up at least 2 accounts per user.

And of course Chromebooks are still underpowered computers. If I had one I'd remove Chrome OS [a waste of R&D] and install Ubuntu.


"This means you can work with Chromebooks and connect to a Windows experience running VMware Horizon View."

So, this just means that, Chromebooks would just be another device on top of a Windows device, that would give businesses access to the software in that Windows device?  

If the Chromebooks are just adding overhead to the whole business environment, then they really serve no useful purpose.  Why not just have direct access to that Windows machine, via that same Windows machine.  Another layer of hardware and software just adds to the cost to the environment, not to mention the additional headaches of dealing with the extra device.  If the Crhomebook is just to serve as a "terminal", then it's not really a replacement for any PCs, and it's just an extra layer, like I said before.  



I think you don't get the point. Here's the scenario : a bunch of VIRTUAL Windows machines running on blade servers in a server room. These virtual machines do not have physical screens or keybords. They may even be virtual instances of Windows.

Each employee has a Chromebook with which to connect to any of a number of Windows machine. He logs into the network and works as if he were actually working on the machine. But, he is using a virtual machine with shared resources (disks, etc.).He can sit anywhere, at his regular desk, visiting another office, from home, from an Internet café, from a hotel, being tethered with his cell phone, anywhere he has a stable network connection.

This is actually brings me back to the days of the mainframe andr the mini computer : centralized processing, personal display. But with the "power" of Windows. 

Depending on processing power required, some users could get a dedicated CPU (but not necessarily the same each time) , other share a blade server running multiple VMs (Virtual Machines). That's the same VM as in VMWare.

Where I work, we already have multiple VM's for some purposes. I can easily see that applied to most every user.

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