Friday Thought: Chromebooks are NOT Netbooks

It is pretty clear from the industry press that a consensus is building that the time for netbooks may have passed.  And when Dell, one of the big 3 PC makers, decides to end all netbook products, the industry takes note.

But when a technophile friend of mine lumped Chromebooks into this category, I had to disagree.  His argument that netbooks came out too early, before the customer was ready for the cloud.  And now, with tablets, smartphones, and other devices, the need is no longer there — you can get more for less elsewhere.

Chromebooks, however, are not netbooks.

Netbooks from Dell, HP, Acer, and others still carry the burden of traditional operating systems, albeit “customized” for a purpose.  So while the cost to buy the device was lower, businesses still needed to carry the full burden of supporting any PC-class device.  And users still expected to run ‘heavy’ apps like MS Office on these devices.  Less capable, less expensive to buy, just as expensive to run and support is not a formula for long term success.

Chromebooks are entirely different … here’s how:

  • Chromebooks run Chrome OS, the first commercial Operating System to be built specifically to support cloud computing environments.
  • Chrome OS is also the first commercial operating system to include encryption and malware protection in the kernel, eliminating need for two layers of third party software.
  • Chromebooks operate on the model that everything you need is in the cloud, that there is little or no need for any local data.
  • Chromebooks give you access to legacy desktop environments and applications not through local installs, but through terminal services, virtual desktop interfaces, and RDP services.
  • Chromebooks run with a near-zero footprint for its users; no need to manage software distribution, patches, and updates.
  • Chromebooks receive profiles and policies with each power up and user login, eliminating the need to create, manage, and distribute system images.

Most importantly, when you purchase Chromebooks, you are not buying hardware, you are buying a service.

Yes, you own your Chromebook devices, but they are one component of the service.  The service includes a management console that empowers organizations to manage user profiles, services, access, and add-ins.  The service also includes a replacement warranty of up to three years.  Chromebooks are as close to a “zero maintenance; zero administration” solution as you can get.

Netbooks give users a familiar, less capable (some might say ‘crappy’) system that still requires all of the administration and maintenance of a full blown PC.

Chromebooks give users a new platform with expanded capabilities, but without much of the expensive and burdensome overhead.

Netbooks may be on the way out; Chromebooks and the service model they bring to the market should be here for the long haul.


Tuesday Take-Away: Advanced Searching in Gmail

As more people migrate to Google Apps and begin using the Gmail interface, they are often impressed with the scope and speed of the Gmail search bar.    Not surprising, since Google is sort of known for search.

But, did you know that just like on, you can use advanced search operators in your Gmail search bar?  These operators let you focus your search with greater precision, without sacrificing speed.

Some of the advanced search operators we find most useful are:

Operator Definition Example(s)
from: Used to specify the sender Example: from:amy
Meaning: Messages from Amy
to: Used to specify a recipient Example: to:david
Meaning: All messages that were sent to David (by you or someone else)
label: Search for messages by label*
*There isn’t a search operator for unlabeled messages
Example: from:amy label:friends
Meaning: Messages from Amy that have the label “friends” 

Example: from:david label:my-family
Meaning: Messages from David that have the label “My Family”

has:attachment Search for messages with an attachment Example: from:david has:attachment
Meaning: Messages from David that have an attachment
Search for messages that are starred, unread or read Example: is:read is:starred from:David
Meaning: Messages from David that have been read and are marked with a star
Search for messages sent during a certain period of time*
*Dates must be in yyyy/mm/dd format.
Example: after:2004/04/16 before:2004/04/18
Meaning: Messages sent between April 16, 2004 and April 18, 2004.*
*More precisely: Messages sent after 12:00 AM (or 00:00) April 16, 2004 and before April 18, 2004.


You can review a full list of advanced search operators here.  You can also use these operators to create filters and manage email as message arrive.

Happy New Year: Looking Back and Forward

At this time of year, we are often bombarded with “year in review” and “our prediction” articles, news stories, and specials.   As a change a pace, I thought I would take a look at how some past predictions have actually been on the mark.

This video, dating from October 1954, is a segment from GE that aired as part of a televised celebration of the Diamond Jubilee for the electric light.

The video predicts future technologies, including automatic dishwashers, VCRs, DVRs, cellphones, flat screen TVs, 3D TV, and more.

(Note: The video and audio start at 0:08)

Cumulus Global Launches Chromebook Services

Boston, MA – December 12, 2011 – Cumulus Global announced a new suite of Chromebook services for schools, non-profits, businesses, and governments.  As a Authorized Chromebook Reseller, Cumulus Global is better able to help organizations integrate the low cost, maintenance free laptops into cloud and legacy computing environments.  In additional to selling the Chromebooks bundled with a powerful management console, Cumulus Global delivers the planning, implementation, migration, training, and support services that ensure a successful deployment.

“We see growing demand from schools, non-profits, and businesses that have stepped into cloud computing and see greater potential”, noted Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global.  “Both the WiFi and 3G-enabled Chromebooks provide one of the most cost-effective ways to put real computing power in the hands of students and teachers, employees, volunteers, and other cloud-connected users.”

Cumulus Global is partnering with other solution providers to help customers use Chromebooks for more than Google Apps and access to web-based applications.  Terminal services, Virtual Desktop, and tools like AccessNow and the Citrix Receiver for Chromebooks provide users with easy access to traditional desktop and client-server applications.

“With Chromebooks in play, we expect to see new growth in the use of Virtual Desktop Integration (VDI) services”, added Falcon. “The value proposition that many analysts have found missing with VDI services exists with Chromebooks.  The low entry price, built in 3G option, and policy push address the hardware cost, connectivity cost, and management costs head-on.”

Built for cloud connectivity, Chromebooks clear user data and policies after each user session.  Policies reload with each 10-second boot and user login, dramatically reducing the typical overhead in managing system images.

Cumulus Global has a limited number of demonstration systems currently available for loan and trial to school districts subscribed to Google Apps for Education.

For More Information, contact sales@Cumulus