Google got the blogosphere in a flutter last week when it released details of its latest development – the Google Chrome operating system aimed initially at netbooks and eventually full-size desktop systems. Pundits, such as TechCrunch, marveled at Google’s latest attempt to steal Microsoft’s crown, with the search leader introducing Chrome OS as Microsoft is busy promoting Windows 7.
But the question that will be of most interest to you is whether and when you will need to monitor your enterprise network traffic for Google Chrome OS activity. Google says Chrome OS won’t be available until the second half of 2010. That timeframe is almost a whole year after the launch of Windows 7, slated in October.
Google says it is working with companies including Acer, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo to design and build devices to support Chrome OS. Even though the first devices will be aimed at consumers, it might be worth analyzing your networks soon after such devices are launched to monitor for Chrome OS activity on your networks. You may find some users have connected their Chrome OS devices onto the network.
The other concern for enterprises is around security – how much of a security threat are Chrome OS devices going to present to enterprise networks? Much of Google Chrome OS will be based on open source technologies, including a Linux kernel. Google also says it is “going back to the basics and completely redesigning the underlying security architecture of the OS so that users don’t have to deal with with viruses, malware and security updates. It should just work.” As we know, building a bullet-proof operating system is a tall order for Microsoft. What must it be like for OS upstart Google?
For consumers, Google promises that Chrome OS will be a modern operating system (Google says today’s operating systems were “designed in an era where there was no web”) that will be fast and lightweight and will start up and get you on the web in a few seconds. Undoubtedly, the OS will also help the movement toward cloud computing where applications, such as spreadsheets and word processing software, are easily available on the web, rather than tied to the desktop. Google’s promotion of cloud computing will also spur third-parties to develop all sorts of innovations, which should only be good for the consumer.
For enterprises, industry analyst Gartner says there won’t be a significant effect on IT operations for at least three years, and that organizations should not change plans to migrate to Windows 7 because of Google’s announcement. However network managers should prepare policies regarding the support of Chrome OS on their networks, says Gartner. Perhaps that should be in addition to any policies you may have now in place for Google Android devices?