Aussie CIOs poke under Chrome bonnet

Australian chief information officers have shown a mixed reaction to Google's new Chrome browser, which was released in testing form last week to early adopters' praise.
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor and  Suzanne Tindal, Contributor

Australian chief information officers have shown a mixed reaction to Google's new Chrome browser, which was released in testing form last week to early adopters' praise.


"Our guys have looked at it and poked at it. It shows real promise," Bill Robertson, the IT manager of De Bortoli Wines, told ZDNet.com.au in the wake of the launch.

Robertson's IT department has earned a reputation over the past few years for being an early adopter when it comes to hot new technology, adopting Linux desktops and other open-source software packages such as OpenOffice.org and even trialling Google's Web-delivered applications.

Intrigued by some of the design work that had gone into Chrome, Robertson praised Google's move to isolate each browser tab from its brethren tabs for security and stability purposes. The initiative could show up shortcomings in other browsers.

"You can have one misbehaving application tear down the whole Firefox instance," he said.

But the IT manager wasn't keen on some of the security flaws that have already been discovered in Google's code. Robertson's team tested the vulnerabilities in a secure environment and verified their existence. "Yes, they're there," he said. "There are exploits in all browsers. It's the dirty little secret of IT."

In a wider sense Robertson said he saw Chrome as part of Google's attempt to dominate the burgeoning mobile space. "They need this for Android to take on the iPhone," he said, adding Chrome's existence also diminished the value of operating systems such as Microsoft's Windows, because they particularly focused on enhancing the experience of delivering applications such as Google Docs through a Web browser.

You don't want to put your organisation at risk

ECU IT director Mark Ridge

However, not everyone is as hot on Google's shiny new toy.

Edith Cowan University's (ECU) IT director Mark Ridge said the institution's IT department had not yet started testing Chrome. "At the moment, we haven't looked at it," he said.

Ridge said ECU, like other large organisations, rigorously tested any new application for compatibility across its entire operation before it would look at a serious deployment.

"You don't want to put your organisation at risk," he said, acknowledging the security flaws already found in Chrome. "We'll only do it once it's been tried and tested with every application we use in the university, otherwise it's pointless putting it out there."

Glenn Veen, manager of infrastructure and telecommunications at Western Australia's Department of Education and Training said he was aware of Chrome, and several IT staff had downloaded the browser to see what all the fuss was about.

Like ECU, he said the department had not started testing it yet; with more than 800 schools spread around the state Veen's team currently has bigger fish to fry, with a current focus on standardising hardware.

Most large Australian organisations have remained loyal to Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, with relatively few having migrated formally to Mozilla Firefox, despite the software's popularity in the consumer market. The New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority is one notable exception and has been running Firefox for several years.

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