Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Google Chrome OS - think enterprise..........

I have said this before, and it appears I have to say it again, you have to consider the 'whole' and not the parts when thinking critically about some of the recent Google announcements.

What brings this on is the way Google Chrome OS got a real "kicking" in a podcast I was listening to on the train on the way to work this morning. "It's crap, it can't do anything without a network connection, its just the Chrome browser, thin computing was tried and failed before, yada yada yada......".

So Google will work with Netbook manufacturers to release "official' machines - so what ? There is the Chromium open source project. "its just Linux" again, so what ? In fact I am not even going to continue down that road.........

Think a little out of the box. My own personal interest is not in consumer computing. I don't care about Chrome OS versus Android on my phone or my netbook, I think about the enterprise space. I think of the implications for information and knowledge management, for ECM and intranets, and I think that a "thin client" based on Chrome OS plus a really good intranet could be a pleasent working experience. However I am also not saying this will work for everyone, so don't flame me because you need full on Windows for printing to your full colour A0 plotter, or for scanning invoices, or your Mac for graphic design, but lets think about it.....

I have ranted about what Google should / could do in the enterprise space before, and I think with their "private cloud" deals with the U.S. Federal Government, so of that might come to fruition, but I recently found this excellent post, which specifically focuses on Google Wave - another product which receives some heavy criticism from those who confess they "don't get it":

Google Wave Killed the ECM Star... George
Parapadakis postulates his theory that Wave good have a major impact on the ECM space, for the reasons why I will qoute him directly:
"Why? because the ECM industry, and Document Management before it, was invented as a workaround to compensate for NOT being able to do what Google Wave does...."

Make sure you read the comments as well as his post. JM Pascal builds on the theme with his posting: Wave and ECM, my feelings and opinions. Some may note that all the big ECM vendors ahve been keen to jump on the E2.0 band wagon, with new collaboration tools and web based front ends to their industrial strength back end behemoths, tools such as EMC CentreStage, Oracle Beehive and maybe even SharePoint. So merging collaborative authoring into the wider collaboration tools seems to make sense to me.

However don't forget Wave is also a protocol, an extension / add on to XMPP, and we already have one old "groupware" vendor diving in with both feet, in the shape of Novell and their Pulse product. I am Pulse is just the first of many server products built on the Wave protocol / Wave Server foundation.

This brings another interesting angle to the ECM element - for many years there as has been a monolithic suite (examplified by EMC) approach to ECM software, versus a "build your own from best of breed" approach. So the
integration possiblities provided by Wave, alongside initiaves such as CMIS could literally provide options and solutions that I personally am not imaginative enough to dream up right now ! Add open source into the equation, in the form of Alfresco, Nuxeo, MindTouch etc and we literally have a world of possibilities..... :-)

So back to Google Chrome OS. It's an enabler for some simple, low cost, low maintenance - yep almost 'thin computing' - use of either full on public cloud, so called "private cloud" or even just "inside the firewall" LAN based web technologies.

As I have said before, internal Wave, Docs, even the relativley crappy Sites, a GSA etc could enable a decent intranet. Push this to the next level with the latest web based GUI's for ERP and CRM systems, utilization of light weight AJAX toolkits to web enable your inhouse line of business apps, and yes all of a sudden alot of your staff, even sophisticated 'knowledge workers' can exist purely in their browser !

Even in a Microsoft environment, do I need Windows 7 and a full copy of MS Office when SharePoint 2010 is my ECMS, and it provides links to the "online" version of Office 2010 ? Nope Chrome OS would work just fine in that scenario.

Once again we are back to my old hobby horse of taking a truly holistic view of our intranet ecosystems and our information and knowledge management requirements.

Now, if we can just get some of the prominent detractors to think a little before dissing everything that they are not comfortable with, before exploring the possibilities

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