Taking the business world by storm: the rise of the Chromebook

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Chromebooks have been a runaway success since the first model was launched two years ago. Last Christmas saw Amazon announce a pair of Chromebooks as two of the three best-selling notebooks of the US holiday season. And as is increasingly the way, like tablets, they've quickly moved from consumer gadgets tobusinessstaples as companies have begun to embrace a new connected and collaborative approach to work. In the US, Chromebooks now make up more than 20 per cent of notebook sales to businesses, matching sales of tablets.

We are now seeing this same trend in the UK. The second half of 2013 saw a significant increase in deployments of Chromebooks from both commercial and public sector organisations.

Why are Chromebooks providing such a hit? One group that's finding them a great choice are businesses faced with replacing their current generation of Windows machines, especially as the end of support for XP approaches. With new applications now being built for web and mobile, businesses are realising that all most users need are simple, secure devices that let them access web apps like Google Apps forBusinessand Salesforce. They don't need the power - and complexity - of a Windows PC. Users love them because they boot in seconds, the battery lasts all day and they never slow down and finance directors love the low cost.

Even where organisations need to provide users with access to legacy applications, they're still considering non-Windows options. That's especially true if they're already using thin-client technologies, such as Citrix Receiver and Ericom AccessNow, to provide access to remote desktops. Why use a PC when aChromebookcan deliver the same user desktop through a simpler, more secure device, that's easier to manage? With strong support for Citrix on Chromebooks, even organisations that have not previously used thin-client technology must now explore the possibilities it opens up.

The Chrome Management Console has been a key positive for IT teams. It allows them to configure security settings and install applications for individual devices or groups of devices from a single, central web-based portal, giving them effortless control over large estates of devices in a highly scalable fashion.

Working with a Google partner, that is authorised to sell the Chrome Management Console as well as Chromebooks, means that when your Chromebooks arrive, you can immediately access all the management features for the devices and quickly push settings for the rules and policies you want to apply over the cloud to each device. You no longer need to go from device to device to set each one up separately before you deploy it - and you can update and change settings just as easily once those Chromebooks are in users' hands.

The last few months have also seen computer manufacturers launch a wider range of Chromebooks for businesses to choose from. Eight leading computer manufacturers now offer Chromebooks in a variety of screen sizes and configurations to suit different user requirements. The latest addition to the Chrome family is the "Chromebox for Meetings". This brings together Google+ Hangouts and Google Apps to make it quick and easy for you to set up and manage high-definition video meetings, allowing users to work together as if they were meeting face-to-face, no matter where they are.

Just as the iPad did a year earlier, theChromebookis changing perceptions amongbusinessleaders about what they need to give their staff in the way of IT tools. The old dependence on Windows PCs for all users is well and truly a thing of the past for most organisations. Along with tablets, Chromebooks will increasingly become the device of choice for organisations as they seek to provide simple, secure, low-cost and easy to manage access to both new web and mobile applications and legacy systems.

David McLeman is the Managing Director of cloud solutions provider Ancoris.

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