Just a few musings …
I was talking about a potential cloud migration from on-site the other day. The first question I was asked was “would you move everything?”. No. In reality I don’t think I would. Some systems or applications work best in an on-site environment. I might advise tweaking how things are done to improve them, but some systems aren’t suited for the cloud right now.
“Would you use “thin” PC’s and an online version of Office?” Definitely not. Some SaaS applications are perfect as an online only solution. Take an online helpdesk. All I need to use it is a web browser. What about office productivity? I am a firm believer that Office (or whatever) needs to remain on the PC. You can easily integrate with something like a BPOS. Some solutions work best with an installed client. For example, I use TweetDeck for Twitter but I can fallback to the featureless Twitter site. I also use FeedDemon for RSS via Google Reader (No MS Live alternative). My “data” is online and accessible using a client from any of my PC’s. I can also go directly online to use the service and “data”.
“Should work practices remain the same or change?”. It depends. No easy answers here. Look at how you work. Does a process involve multiple applications and spreadsheets? Maybe there is a SaaS solution that wraps that all into one tidy package. You might have been doing something a certain way for 10 years but that doesn’t mean it is the only way or even the right way. Analysis of procedures and applications is required on a case-by-case basis.
“We want to use an online version of the EMail product that we use now”. Ugh. Email is email. It’s a message that is wrapped up and shoved out a pipe on TCP 25. Focus on what client you will use, how you will configure it, and how it will integrate with the other online solutions. For example, BPOS has integrated mail/SharePoint/online communications. I’m told that SakesForce GMail integrates with GMail but nothing else (strategic alliance).
Like I said, just some musings.