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This national shipping company just rolled out a bunch of Google Chrome devices. Here's why
Google's Chrome browser is at the top of the heap right now, but the Chrome OS operating system based on it has always been a questionable prospect.
Who would want to buy a computer that's basically nothing but a big web browser, with minimal local storage and almost no peripheral support? The benefits, like blazing fast startup time and easy app installation, don't seem to outweigh the drawbacks.
So it was surprising to see that shipping and distribution company Quality Distribution Inc. (QDI) recently deployed more than 400 Chrome devices in conjunction with a move to Google Gmail as its corporate email system. QDI worked with Cloud Sherpas, a Google enterprise distributor, to get the whole system up and running.
Cliff Dixon, the VP of IT for QDI, explained to CITEworld what the company was thinking.
The Chrome devices are part of a bigger strategic shift to web apps. And guess who drove that move? Not the IT department, but users. It's a classic case of consumerization.
"Users were not necessarily saying 'we should be working on apps that are HTML5,'" says Dixon. "They were saying 'Why can't I do my workflow process on my iPad?'"
QDI's move toward a web-first environment started a few years ago. QDI has a network of more than 125 branches and regional affiliates in the U.S. A lot of these affiliates are franchisees, many with fewer than five employees, and they have widely varying technical capabilities. Deploying and managing software on traditional PCs in this highly fractured environment was a headache.
"We had proprietary, locally installed apps. Every day we were having to do things like troubleshoot ODBC settings on local machines."
So several years ago the company converted to running all core apps on Terminal Services, a centralized Windows desktop environment that runs on Windows Server machines. Then, QDI offered cheap refurbished PCs for franchisees to access those apps.
At the same time, the expense of keeping its Microsoft software licenses up to date was spurring QDI to take a serious look at Google Apps. Dixon says, "When the Chromebook was announced we realized it was a perfect fit, it was exactly what we wanted to do. It lets us standardize to a vision."
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Brandon Porco, the chief technologist for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, says that IT will have to try lots of different things and move quickly to keep abreast of evolving employee needs. "Google has it very well-patterned: Launch and iterate."
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