I echo strongly Joel's excitement in the cloud space regarding Office 365.
What is all this cloud? Where's BPOS?
Office 365 = cloud SharePoint + Exchange + Lync (office communication server) + Office = starting at US$6 per user.
Imagine an office of 10 people, you only pay $720 to Microsoft for Exchange and SharePoint and Microsoft guarantee 99.99%
I don't believe small or medium non-IT companies should even be looking at running their own server anymore within 2 years.
(Caveat - in some industries - legal, financial, medical, defence, it may be illegal to keep your data in the cloud, replicated in a few different countries - you had to know where it is stored - on this front, Microsoft's products are available in the cloud and on-premise, and much further ahead of Google)
I think there's still a strong case for Small Business Server, for your own on premise Active Directory Domain, then synchronize the entire AD via Azure ACS and have the rest running in the cloud. And probably for a Storage/backup /Network Monitor/Windows Update server system.
But I'm so glad that in the nearby future, we will no longer see this crazy AD+Exchange+SQL+SharePoint all in one box. That was damn scary, talk about business interruption if something were to go wrong with that box.
When SharePoint, Exchange (and soon, CRM 2011) are all hosted on the cloud, I think the biggest question shifts to:
- How do we customize it? Everyone still has to customize! Sandbox solutions, CRM packages
- Where does a small or medium company find and buy ready-built solutions and deploy that to their own cloud server? SharePoint App Store, CRM App Store.
New roles in the future:
- If hosting and server license are not upfront and now out of the way - MS is willing to take subscription over long periods, and we'll be happier to have more $ for customization - this is the reason I'm so excited. More $ for partners. More $ for customization to meet business needs.
- Cloud business consultants - help clients move their business to the cloud, manage expectations, patch differences between old and new way.
- Cloud infrastructure dudes - Azure ACS, Cloud Storage, Pricing, SLA specialists
- Custom Development - time to REALLY know how to build packages inside out. Cause you won't ever be able to deploy to GAC
My predictions for the future:
2011: To the Cloud
- SharePoint App Store
- Office 365
- CRM 2011
This is my cute prediction for 2012.
With all the cloud stuff, I think there's going to be some major business leak and then perhaps we'll see massive push to "lockdown" enterprise information on a need-to-know basis.