The Google Cr-48 may just be a prototype, but it is also a glimpse in to the future of cloud computing.
Imagine a typical day at the office. You’re sitting down with your morning coffee, doing the final preparation for your weekly status report. You’ve got 10 minutes left before your meeting and have just received the revised budget figures. You quickly update your presentation with the new figures as you watch the seconds tick away. Just 3 minutes left before the meeting starts so you reach to close your laptop and splash… coffee all over the keyboard. A few sizzles later and the screen is off.
Whoops! Not only was your presentation on your laptop, but you were also going to demo some new software. What are you going to do?
Simple, on your way to the meeting you grab a laptop from your buddy in accounting. He doesn’t have the same security access as you and doesn’t have access to your files, but it doesn’t matter. You simply log in using your credentials and the lightweight operating system pulls all your data from the cloud. Every file, program, and setting is exactly as it was on your own laptop. Your presentation is even ready with the latest updates. Spilling the coffee on your keyboard only slowed you down by the time it took to log into a new laptop-about 18 seconds.
A prototype of the future of cloud computing has just been launched by Google (the Cr-48) and even though it’s not perfect, it is surely a sign of things to come. It is based on the premise that web-based (or browser-based) applications will replace desktop applications. As browsers become increasingly powerful, rich web-based applications have emerged to replace traditional software.
The most common example of a web-based platform replacing installed software is email. Managing email is easier than ever using services like Hotmail and Gmail. This is especially true for enterprises as running an internal email system requires servers, patches, upgrades, experts and inevitably leads to storage issues.
The new prototype from Google that runs Chrome OS is just like email. You log in over a network (either 3G or Wifi) and are instantly in your customized machine. All of your bookmarks, files, extensions, and web-based applications are there. There is no installation of programs, no reconfiguring of settings, and no copying files. Once you’ve set it up, you can simply log in from anywhere and access your computer as if you were at home. If you ever need to replace your machine, all you do to setup the new one is sign-in.
Additionally, you don’t need to worry about backing up your data or applying patches to your software because that’s handled automatically. If you corrupt your hard-drive or spill coffee on your machine it’s not a problem because your files are not stored locally. If you lose your laptop on the subway, it’s not a security concern (unless you have a weak password) because your laptop only has an OS on it.
Wondering where you “install” programs from? The newly launched Chrome Webstore which you can log into right now using Google’s Chrome web-browser to test out web-based applications and extensions.
This latest prototype from Google is certainly not ready for mainstream adoption; but CIOs will be watching it carefully as there is huge potential. The cost of a laptop running Chrome OS will be significantly lower than a system running Windows/Mac OS, plus there will be huge savings managing the back-end. The difficulty will be in aligning the opportunities with the business processes to ensure a smooth workflow. Smaller businesses can adopt quickly and take advantage of many free services being offered.
The other major opportunity will be delivering the same applications to mobile devices. The adoption of smart phones and tablets has driven the demand for mobile access to both consumer and enterprise solutions. Citrix Receiver is one such example that enables a company to host applications and deliver them to clients on any device, including Chrome OS.
Watch this video below to see the announcement from Google and a live demo of the prototype.