Re: How do you manage these?
To manage them is fairly simple: https://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/chrome/business/devices/features-management-console.html. I've not come across a smart card authentication system for them yet - but I susepct that with a Bluetooth smart card reader something could be done. If you can do it on a Tablet, chances are you can do it on a CB.
I have the Google Pixel, that I bought on a whim to see what the hype was about. I sort of understand it now - I still have a desktop PC - running Linux - for heavy lifting jobs - such as backing up DVD's and BluRays to the NAS for convenient watching on the TV set using XBMC on a Pi - but for 90% of what I do the Chromebook is more than adequate.
I used Crouton initially to install Ubuntu so I could instantly switch to an OS I am more familiar with and use applications I already knew - Libre-Office for one, but after a couple of months removed it as I'd not used it... Which must say something about the flexibility of ChromeOS.
I work as a Project Manager most of the time - I've even found an app for the Chromebook that will open/edit/save MS Project files quite happily - both on and off-line. With Google Docs and Quick-Office I've not had any problems with Office files (spreadsheets, documents and Powerpoint stuff).
For me it was a choice between the MacBook Air and the Pixel - and I feel I made the right choice. Total cost of ownership is lower than either a MB or a Windows Laptop due to the cost of the applications.
I've become a bit of an evangelist for Chromebooks since getting one - but everyone should try living with one for a month. It's suprising how much you can do with them - assuming you want to use it for work/school stuff and not just to rip dvd's or mine for bitcoins.