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Sundar Pichai '02 Profiled in Times of India

The Times of India

May 24th 2011

Meet the Indian behind ChromeBook

Chrome is back in the limelight with Google's recent launch of Chromebook. For beginners, this is a computer which stores no data. Everything the user creates is automatically stored in Google's servers (or the cloud, as it's increasingly called). So, no need to back up data for fear of the hard disk crashing or the laptop getting stolen.

Though some feel it will take a while for this form of computing to become the norm, Chromebook is nevertheless a revolutionary progression in Web services, which could theoretically reduce computers to mere devices to access the Web and threaten Microsoft's Windows.

One little-known fact: the Chrome team is headed by an Indian -- Sundar Pichai. As senior vice-president, Pichai leads the product management and innovation efforts for a suite of Google's search and consumer products, including Chrome, Chrome OS, Google Toolbar and Google Pack. With more than 12 years of experience developing high-tech consumer and enterprise products, Pichai has turned out to be a key person in research and development in Google.

Before joining the internet giant, Pichai held various engineering and product management positions at Applied Materials, and was a management consultant with McKinsey & Co for software and semiconductor clients. After a BTech from the Indian Institute of Technology, he did an MS from Stanford University and an MBA from the Wharton School, where he was named a Siebel Scholar and a Palmer Scholar, recognitions offered to the most talented students.

Speaking to TOI from his California office, Pichai sought to bust some myths about the Chromebook. One of it is about the dependence on good Net access. Since all the data is in the cloud, the common belief is that Chromebook users will need very good internet connectivity. Sceptics have said this would make it difficult for Google to make Chromebook popular. Pichai said: "If you can access Gmail and Facebook, then that level of connectivity is good enough to access Chromebook. Moreover, offline versions of Gmail, Google Docs and Calendar will be available soon."

He also said fears about account safety are exaggerated. "One of the features of Chrome is its high level of security. Users never have to update anything, the browser updates automatically. Users can't install any malicious code in the machine. The data is anyway encrypted by default. So, it's totally safe. Chromebook also has a feature called 'verified boot' which ensures that all executed codes come from Chrome OS and not from an attacker."

Unfortunately, India isn't among the countries where Chromebook will be available immediately. Pichai said it's being launched in regions where there are agreements with hardware partners and data carrier services. He didn't give a specific time for the India launch.

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