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Gregor Petri

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Is a Thin client also a Lean client? Or are we now Clouding the issue and is not all Chrome that glitters?

Today Google announced their second OS, but somehow this got a lot more attention than their first (Android). I am sure this has to do with the fact it now seems an all out war between two giants, both doing Search, both doing Mobile, both doing Office Suites and now both doing OS’s. All four are multi-billion dollar markets, but strangely this battle seems to be all about the browser, a market where, so far, nobody managed to make a buck.

In fact the idea of a portable browser came originally from a third billion dollar giant. Back then it was called Thin Client. Now we may call it a Netbook, iPhone or AppPhone, but the premise is still to put as little clutter (waste) between the user and the app or the content (the value). Which starts to sound like (minimize waste, maximize value a.k.a. …) Lean IT.

Now, if you live next to a bakery store, we all agree it makes no sense to fire up your oven every morning for some fresh bagels (or croissants depending on which part of the globe you live). But if the nearest bakery is so far away you cannot get there in your pajama, then having you own oven (and a supply of conveniently prebaked bagels) starts to make sense.

So what could Chrome OS eventual mean? It could mean end users go out and buy standard access devices (netbooks, phones, smart TVs and even desktops), which they use to access applications (Gmail, Google Apps, but also business apps like Salesforce or other SaaS providers) that run outside their place of work. Welcome to Consumerization!

There were three reasons this did not happen earlier: 1) the network was too slow for a good (graphical) user experience and 2) Business apps were not available outside the enterprise.
But even with one and two fixed , users would still be going from site to site being their own integration engine by cutting and pasting or retyping all the time. It is here where the OS can help. It took Windows 10 years to go from DDE, via OLE to COM, COM+, DCOM, etc. etc. but today two browser sessions - also due to of security concerns – do not have the same level of integration as desktop apps. Because the Chrome OS is “starting over” they have a chance to tackle this. It will be cool to use a CRM application from one provider and a financial application from another and have them work seamlessly together on the desktop (meanwhile other companies, with Salesforce.com in front, are working hard on getting the apps to also work seamlessly together at the server/database level).

Now will this make our enterprises leaner? Well, only if we use this to replace some of the complexity we already have, not if we just add it to the stack (so instead of 3 OS’s, we support 4 or 5 ). Also we will need to decide what types of bread we want to bake in-house and what types of bread we source from the cloud. And if we are smart, we make our remaining in-house bakeries into little private clouds, so the user sees no difference and we can source these later.

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Gregor Petri is a regular expert or keynote speaker at industry events throughout Europe and wrote the cloud primer “Shedding Light on Cloud Computing”. He was also a columnist at ITSM Portal, contributing author to the Dutch “Over Cloud Computing” book, member of the Computable expert panel and his LeanITmanager blog is syndicated across many sites worldwide. Gregor was named by Cloud Computing Journal as one of The Top 100 Bloggers on Cloud Computing.

Follow him on Twitter @GregorPetri or read his blog at blog.gregorpetri.com