Monday, December 13, 2010

Browser-Based Disruption of IT

 The Google Chromium OS starts with the assumption that you don't need an Operating System (OS) to do anything other than to run a browser. No other applications or services are available on a personal computer, whether it is a desktop, laptop or smart phone. Everything needed is on the net and can be reached and then retrieved through the browser. That's why the Chromium OS and the current Chromium browser have the identical name.

Consumers have several choices when it comes to managing computers. The principal operating systems for personal computers are the variations of MacOS, the variations of Windows or the variations of Unix.  In the case of mobile devices, the principal operating systems are variations of Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, Apple IOS, NokiaOS, Symbian and Android. If all releases and variations are accounted for, there are well over one hundred OSs in place. They are incompatible or require elaborate workarounds to be interoperable.

Chrome OS now proposes to change all. It is a stripped-down operating system with minimum features. It represents a radical overhaul in the way computers work: there is no desktop, no files or folders.
While the Chrome OS won't hit the market for months, there is advance information available that offers a preview:

1. The slimmed down Chrome OS is intended it to run on computers that use flash chips for storage instead of hard drives. The result is a cold boot in less than 25 seconds, including the time it takes to log in. After that a computer can restart in less than two seconds.
2. All of its applications are Web-based so users don't need to buy program discs or install applications
3. Downloads are small and incremental. They are pushed out automatically to users.
4. Web applications are available from an app store. Active applications run as separate icons or can be retrieved from tabs.
5. The feature that is relevant to DoD is the incorporation of the Trusted Platform Module (TPM). TPM complies with specifications that specify a secure cryptoprocessor that can store cryptographic keys that protect information, implemented on a "TPM chip" or "TPM Security Device":


This capability should make a system impermeable to viruses, bots and all malware.
6. A Chrome OS security review is also enclosed. *

SUMMARY
The theory behind Chrome OS is that users already depend on continuous access to the Internet. Network connectivity is essential for every operating system, such as for software updating. User habits also show that, on the average, they spend more time connected to the Internet or remotely to a data center server than off line.

Chrome OS doesn't run native applications, doesn't allow access to a local file storage system and doesn't include drivers for external devices. That means if needs to use a printer that must be available as a network service.

Whether Chrome OS will be widely accepted remains to be seen. As networks become more reliable, acquire higher capacity and demonstrate superior security the idea of browser-based systems will be also pursued by other browser vendors. Such solutions can be expected to overcome much of the complexity of existing architectures while materially reducing costs.

From the standpoint of DoD the prospect that a large share of its computing will be browser-based rather than PC-based warrants attention. It will be the availability of secure and reliable network connectivity from cloud computing that will make browser-based computing feasible. To assure uninterrupted connectivity the increased reliance on wideband wireless systems will be also a consequence of rethinking how to restructure DoD networks.


* http://www.chromium.org/chromium-os/chromiumos-design-docs/security-overview