This week Google has announced the Chrome browser. I tried it. It is ok for now – not great – but ok. It’s fast and clean but missing some key features and many sites still don’t work with it. I think the importance of this Chrome browser is what it tells us about Google’s plans for the future – applications will come from the Web and run inside a browser. This is not a new concept – many of the applications that we use today are web-based. Think about Gmail, Salesforce.com, web-based office suites, YouTube, etc. Chrome just makes it clearer – forget about desktop applications, they are something of the past.
There is a slightly more subtle implication, but to me a far more important one. Google and the likes of Google are establishing a direct relationship with the enterprise end user, bypassing the traditional IT-department controls over which applications are used and who can use them. The IT department only needs to provide the pipes. Google will take care of the rest. And speaking of pipes – that DS3 link you have isn’t big enough. It needs to be upgraded - quickly! Google needs you to have more bandwidth. With everything coming in on ports 80 and 443 to the browser, QoS doesn’t work. So, more bandwidth please.
The migration of applications from the enterprise data center to Google and Salesforce.com, accompanied by the corresponding shift of information from the data center to the Internet is slowly changing the IT department’s role. It also changes the security risks that need to be resolved. When users have the ability to choose the applications they use, when data resides outside the corporate network, and when everyone can use any application and access data wherever they are in the world – we are dealing with a completely different beast than we are used to!
So, what can the IT department do about it? First they need to go through the five stages of grief –
1) Denial (our users are using these applications? Nah!);
2) Anger (our users are using these applications? WTF!);
3) Bargaining (hey, if you stop using these applications we will upgrade your computer);
4) Depression (I can’t believe our users are using these applicationsL);
5) Acceptance (fine, are users really using these applications – let’s deal with it).
At that point, just deal with it. Put controls in place to allow you to determine who can use which application and put security measures in place to protect the use of these applications. How to do it? Sorry. I cannot promote my company’s products in my blog so I cannot answer this question…