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Google Unveils Business-Friendly Chrome OS Licensing Program with Active Directory Support

Designed to accelerate adoption of Chromebooks, the new offering also enables technicians to administer Chrome-based hardware through the same interface as their other end points using VMware’s Workspace ONE platform. By Rich Freeman

Seeking to accelerate adoption of hardware running its Chrome OS operating system by simplifying management, Google has introduced a new Chrome licensing program that allows businesses to integrate Chrome-based devices with Microsoft Active Directory and VMware Inc.’s Workspace ONE platform.

Called Chrome Enterprise and priced at $50 per device per year, the new offering lets administrators manage Chromebooks and other Chrome-based systems with the same tools they use to manage other end points.

“This integration allows employees to use their native credentials to authenticate across devices and Google Cloud Services like Google Play while centralizing management of user and device policies for IT admins,” said David Karam, product manager for Chrome Enterprise, in a blog post today.

Other business-friendly Chrome Enterprise features include access to enterprise app storefronts, enhanced security controls, and 24/7 technical support. Karam’s blog post doesn’t specify what that support program covers or what kind of response times subscribers can expect.

According to VMware, support in Workspace ONE for Chrome Enterprise hardware will reach market in September. That announcement, which arrives just days before the Palo Alto, Calif.-based vendor’s VMworld conference in Las Vegas next week, positions Workspace ONE to become the first and so far only solution equipped to help businesses administer Chrome OS-based devices through the same interface as their Windows PCs, Apple MacBooks, and mobile devices.

Global Chromebook shipments rose 38 percent in 2016 even as the PC market overall shrank 6 percent, according to Gartner.

“The consumerization of the enterprise has left IT managing multiple operating systems on a variety of devices—some provided by the business and others brought in by employees,” said Sumit Dhawan, senior vice president and general manager for end user computing at VMware, in a press statement. “As Chrome OS continues to gain momentum, our customers are eager to manage these devices consistently along with all other endpoints including mobile devices. Using Workspace ONE, our customers will be able to securely manage the lifecycle of Chromebooks along with all their other endpoints giving them better security and a consistent user experience across all devices.”

Workspace ONE’s Chrome OS device management capabilities, which draw on the system’s embedded VMware AirWatch unified endpoint management technology, will provide out-of-the box support for the entire hardware lifecycle, from onboarding, configuration, policy management, and app provisioning to auditing, tracking, and removing data from lost or decommissioned devices. Chrome Enterprise subscribers will also be able to assign customizable policies to specific workgroups based on geography, device platform, department, role, and more.

“Our collaboration with VMware will help us deliver a seamless deployment and management experience, making Chrome devices available across more teams,” said Rajen Sheth, senior director of product management for Chrome OS at Google, in VMware’s press release. “Our business customers are focused on three things—speed, simplicity and security—and the new Workspace ONE support will provide Chrome users with the flexibility organizations are looking for to offer employees choice and access to the cloud.”

VMware’s support for Chrome Enterprise builds on a partnership with Google announced in May. That agreement armed Workspace ONE users to manage cloud, web, and virtual applications on Chromebooks.

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