Dell & Google Polish Chromebooks for the Workplace

By Charles King, Pund-IT, Inc.  August 19, 2015

Last week, Dell and Google together announced the Dell Chromebook 13, which the companies described as a “professional” Chromebook designed for the mobile workforce. Certainly the new solution is a far cry from the vast majority of Chromebooks that tend to resemble clunky, past generation laptops.

By leveraging premium materials, including carbon fiber weave for the cover, a magnesium alloy palm rest and an aluminum base, the Chromebook 13 is light, sturdy and sleek. The 13.3-inch full HD IPS display, dual microphones and 720p HD video webcam help to ensure that users enjoy a quality experience in a wide array of workplace tasks and processes, including Google Hangouts.

Toss in Intel Celeron to Core i3 and i5 processor options, up to 8GB of system memory and up to 12 hours of battery life, and the Chromebook 13 begins to look like a solution that could collectively change peoples’ minds about what a Chromebook is and what it’s good for.

It wouldn’t be the first solution to attempt that – Google has tried a similar effort with its own Chromebook Pixel. But compare the Pixel’s notebook-like $1200-$1500 price tag to the Chromebook 13’s cost of $399-$899 and you can see that Dell (along with an enthusiastic Google) is on something of a mission to sell businesses on the value of this platform.

Taking a shine to Chromebooks

But exactly why would businesses do that? After all, the market is at a point where solid Windows laptops can be had for well under $500, and you can pick up excellent ultrabooks for under $1000. So what would tempt a company to give up a long investment in Windows and Office for the perceived vagaries of Google’s Chrome OS and ecosystem?

A couple of situations are worth considering. First, with economic doldrums continuing to measurably impact a variety of sectors and geographies, many companies are squeezing as much value from a dollar as they possibly can. They may want to refresh company PCs, but new hardware combined with Windows and Office license costs are often prohibitive. In addition, many organizations would like to expand their mobile workforce but lack the means to do so.

In both of these cases, a solution like the Dell Chromebook 13 could be an ideal option. Given the lightness of the Chrome OS, even low-end models deliver solid performance at very attractive price points. Higher-end systems should satisfy performance-conscious power users, and particularly cost-conscious organizations might even contemplate Google Apps for Work for their productivity needs.

Most importantly, Chromebooks are not an either/or proposition, at least in the case of Dell. The new Chromebook 13 is fully supported by the company’s suite of endpoint management, security and maintenance applications and services. In the case of businesses with sizable Windows investments, the Chromebook 13 can utilize the Dell Wyse vWorkspace Connector for Chrome OS to provide seamless, secure access to Windows applications and Office documents. As access to vWorkplace implies, the Chromebook 13 can be incorporated in Wyse thin client implementations and environment.

The Chromebook 13 is also supported by Dell KACE for inventory management and service desk support. Dell SonicWALL Mobile Connect (VPN) app in combination with a Dell Secure Mobile Access appliance or next-generation firewall provides employees secure access to authorized company resources, along with access reporting and tracking. Content Filter subscription services are available with Dell firewalls to provide URL filtering and browser protection.

Finally, the company is making its new ProSupport Plus for PCs and tablets available to Dell Chromebook 13 customers. ProSupport Plus services include priority 24X7 access to expert support, repair for drops, spills and other mishaps, and a Technical Account Manager (TAM) for customers with more than 1,000 entitled systems.

Final analysis

This all sounds good, but not every organization will want, let alone prefer to move ahead with Chromebook adoptions. The fact is that Dell fully understands that, but the company also recognizes that for many customers and in many situations, the Chromebook 13 can offer excellent value and often unique solutions for particular customer problems.

By working closely with Google, Dell has developed a compelling new solution that brings the value of Chromebook technology into the workplace and makes it fully ready for business users. Plus, by supporting its new offering with Wyse, KACE and SonicWall solutions, and ProSupport services, Dell has ensured that the Chromebook 13 can be fully integrated, managed and maintained in demanding business environments.

At the end of the day, organizations planning mobile workforce solution deployments may decide that Chromebooks are not for them. But they would be remiss if they did not investigate and consider Dell’s new Chromebook 13.

© 2015 Pund-IT, Inc. All rights reserved.