Google ChromeBook + VDI/DaaS = Awesome! (Even for the enterprise!)

I've been meaning to write about this for awhile, but with yesterday's announcement that Google & VMware are high-fiving each other over Horizon DaaS (Desktone) and ChromeBooks, I figured might as well jump in now. The idea they're pushing (and that I love) is that you replace your Windows laptops (or desktops) with Google ChromeBooks (or ChromeBoxes).

I've been meaning to write about this for awhile, but with yesterday's announcement that Google & VMware are high-fiving each other over Horizon DaaS (Desktone) and ChromeBooks, I figured might as well jump in now.

The idea they're pushing (and that I love) is that you replace your Windows laptops (or desktops) with Google ChromeBooks (or ChromeBoxes). The ChromeBook is essentially like a thin client in that you don't have to do to much to manage it, worry about viruses, etc. All the "apps" on it are Chrome Apps and Extensions, many of which work offline. Then for Windows apps, you connect to a remote desktop (RDSH, VDI, DaaS, etc.) via an HTML5 client or a Chrome Extension.

The ChromeBook 

We've written about ChromeBooks a bit in the past on Gabe reviewed a couple of them a few months ago, with his main complaint being that the $279 one feels too cheap to be used by grown ups at work, and the $1300 one is, well, it's a $1300 laptop that only runs Chrome. But now we're getting some more options in the $400-$600 range that might feel more like normal hardware that enterprises could use.

Google also has a cloud-based "management console" for ChromeBooks which adds the expected enterprise management options, including:

  • Asset tracking
  • Pre-installing Chrome apps
  • Blacklisting & whitelisting of Chrome apps, extensions, and URLs.
  • Group configuration options (so you have different policies for different users and groups)
  • Centralized network configuration (proxies, WiFi, etc.)
  • Enabling, disabling, or pre-configuring all the other Chrome options, like bookmarks, wallpaper, account sync, etc.
I'm not clear on whether you have to buy that management console as a separate thing or whether it's included. Some places show it as costing $150, while in other places they say if you buy your ChromeBooks from an authorized reseller, then it's included. (As opposed to, what, the black market?)

Now add Windows via VDI or DaaS

I'm unclear on what exactly yesterday's announcement was. (Google version | VMware version) They're just saying that you can use a ChromeBook to access on-premises remote Windows desktops now via Blast, and then in the future you'll be able to also access VDI and RDSH sessions from the public cloud via the Horizon DaaS (Desktone) service. VMware Horizon View has had HTML5/Blast support for awhile (which also already works with Chrome and ChromeOS), so who the hell knows what this "deal" is? Probably just a marketing announcement since PEX is this week to bait gullible bloggers into giving them free coverage.

Of course accessing remote Windows sessions from a ChromeBook is certainly not new. Citrix has their Receiver for HTML5. There are Chrome extensions from Ericom's HTML5 client and Google's own Chrome Remote Desktop. dinCloud also has their WebHVD Chrome extension which connects directly into Windows desktops running on their DaaS platform (which, it seems to me, is them doing today what VMware announced they'll offer "soon?")

Is this for the enterprise?

So that's the idea. I know so far a lot of people have said that Chromebooks are more geared for education and that they're not ready for the enterprise, but I'd like to revisit this, because to me, ChromeBooks + VDI/DaaS seems pretty great.

Yeah, I get that they're not for everyone. Obviously this solution means you're remoting your Windows apps, so you have those restrictions. But now that we have a lot of options to build high-performance, low-cost VDI on-premises, or cheap ready-to-run DaaS, we're seeing more and more enterprises where that's possible for a number of users.

As for the device itself, the ChromeBook will handle all the corporate web apps. They're as easy to manage as thin clients. Most of them have 3G and 4G built in. Heck, user SillyRabbit sent me a message pointing out that the ChromeBook is more secure than most other equivalent devices out there.

I'm not saying this is the solution for every user. But for some? It's got to make sense, even in the enterprise.

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Fun... but marketing bundle...

Was "done" years ago with Citrix and never took off... Mainly due to cost and limitation compare to "regular PC". Also, the HTML5 is limited by design and is missing some easy usefull features like printing.



@Kata: Marketing is good. And it's necessary. Awesome technology doesn't sell itself ... sometimes not even if it's free.

I recently jumped on the Google band wagon when I bought my first 2 KitKat devices (Nexus 5  & 7).

Never had an iPad or iPhone.

But I have been seriously thinking about 'augmenting' or replacing my MacBook Air 13 with a HP Chromebook 11.

The fact that all this VDI stuff on Chromebook has been 'possible' for years doesn't mean that people will actually jump onto it.

There's a lot more smooth talking required to make IT departments open their minds and hearts to Google.

Google is pretty much in a position to take away sizable chunks of market- and mind-share from Microsoft. (GMail, GApps, Android Development Toolkit, Chrome)

Especially now that Nadella is at the helm ....


To me, the primary purpose of a Chromebook is to act as an endpoint for accessing SaaS solutions.  The majority of the applications offered are SaaS based.  Some of these have caching available for offline use but they are still dependent on the underlying SaaS model.  

DaaS on Chromebook is only there to bridge a gap created by applications that are not delivered via SaaS.  There are several of these traditional apps but MS Office is the primary one.  The web based version of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint are rather limited and several other parts of the suite are not available online.  IMO a lot of the DaaS use cases would go away if MS offered Office as a fully featured SaaS suite.  The only reason they haven't done that is to protect the Windows desktop OS revenue stream.  


@Brian - Thanks for the nod.

These types of announcements generate more than buzz; they contribute to ideas on how to leverage the available technology in various capacities. It also serves the purpose to put other vendors on notice.

Obviously VMware and Google will not merge in the next few years, but the possibility that another hardware vendor would shop for a DaaS solution is now justified.

@Rick - I agree and would like to add that many of the bootstrapping start-ups that I visit and research do NOT have IT departments. They all pretty much use G*this and G*that via Chrome on their various BYoD.

@Kata - These start-ups use G*print (

Please no G*string jokes.



Enterprise IT may finally take notice, so I'm thrilled by the announcement.  Broader use of VDI solves a lot of problems for IT departments.  

I have two Chromebooks and use them every day to connect to vmware view 5.3.  It's a new idea, but is viable for the enterprise.  This is a transitionary platform that allows us to use our legacy Windows applications in a virtual desktop while we move forward to a cloud based model, such as Google apps.  But, it's not just Google apps, enterprise software vendors like SAP appear to be embracing the HTML5 evolution.  

In addition, I have found that I really don't work when disconnected.  And, my $300 Chromebook 14, and $200 Acer C720 work fine with the new Haswell chips - there is no need to spend $1300 on a Pixel.  


I concur. Chromebook and HTML5 desktops aren't new at all. Many companies have been developing tools around Chromebook to deliver desktops. dinCloud is even offering a $20 hosted virtual desktop (what they call webHVD) to consumers. I think WMware is late in this arena but nonetheless, it will be nice to see technology moving in this direction from existing VDI.


I commented on another article, but bears repeating.  This will be my last mention for fear of being labeled a spammer but why limit yourself when you can do all of these same things, regardless of your operating system with Glassware 2.0.  Maybe they really are on to something.   Cheers


You mentioned the security of Chromebooks. For more on that see my recent blog which looks at Chromebooks as traveling companions when going to areas where hacking is thought to be widespread.

Above and beyond the security is that its all stress-free. That is, the least techie Chromebook still gets the security. The only hard part might be initial setup of a VPN connection.

A Chromebook offers Defensive Computing when traveling



I'm not sufficiently familiar with the capabilities of VMware Blast, but with Ericom AccessNow you can connect to a remote Windows desktop or application without requiring a VPN, AccessNow is compatible with SSL VPNs such as Juniper or Cisco, so you can connect securely through them (Juniper and Cisco now support WebSockets, so performance is great as well.) Alternatively, you can connect through our own Ericom Secure Gateway (kinda like the old CSG but using Secured WebSockets.)

Disclaimer: I work at Ericom


However, 99% of Chromebooks have garbage specs and sizes not meant for the corporate customer.  

The most popular size we have in our fleet is the 14" Lenovo T430 and it has a resolution of 1600x900.  

Other than the Chromebook Pixel, every other Chromebook low res screens and do not have a processor more powerful than i3.  

Ideal spec would be a 13-14" with 4GB memory, 1600x900 resolution min, and Core i5 ULV processor minimum.  Those Celerons won't do it.

Resolution is the most important for corporate folks, some webpages and apps do not look good with a netbook resolution.


Here is my take on this announcement:

Disclaimer: I work at Ericom, the maker of AccessNow - an HTML5 remote access solution, which also runs on Chromebooks


The VMWare/Google announcement at partner's exchange that the Chromebook can be used to access a VDI desktop was really old news. My hope is this new partnership will result in a View client for the Chromebook with USB pass through, great audio and video performance (PCoIP), and some good work arounds for the keyboard issues. The HTML5 method is lacking in all these items. I am in K-12 education and the Chromebook might make a great device to give to students who need to bounce from using web apps/cloud storage to Windows applications and local storage. Perhaps the next version of View will allow HTML access to be as good as using a client.

The announcement talked about trying to move the Chromebook into the enterprise. VMWare has made a decent start towards this but there is work to be done.


The idea that the world is well connected isn't real for the enterprise. Chromebook will fail there for a long time to come. Very niche use case.


These chrome-books make perfect little client devices for any kind of DaaS :