I had a dream. I was the CEO of a business, and we didn’t have to buy any servers or have an IT department. Our email was hosted by Intermedia (or one of a slew of other options). Our customer data was hosted by SugarCRM (or Salesforce or someone else). Our accounting and ERP application (Sage MAS 90, MAS 200, whatever…) was hosted. Our file server was hosted. We didn’t have to have any IT infrastructure support, other than calling the phone company about once a year to complain about our internet speed or connectivity. I didn’t have to worry about backups. My only real business continuity and disaster planning was related to making sure we had redundant internet connectivity solutions in case one went down. I budgeted a monthly cost for IT applications, and the actual expenditures always matched the budget, except when every now and then one of my managers went crazy asking for custom reports or custom integration. I contracted with an external company for software support and maintenance, but I only needed to use them when I wanted new stuff or I hired new people to be trained. Sure…I had to replace PCs every now and then, but PCs were like toasters. It was always easier and cheaper to buy a new one than fix a broken one. Viruses? Spam? Spyware? Hah! Outsourced, hosted software managed all of that so we never had to worry about any of it.
Ah…then I woke up. I woke up and our Exchange is actually hosted by Intermedia. We have our customer management software actually hosted by SugarCRM. And they talk to each other. Now…our file servers and accounting applications are still hosted internally, but not for long. With some of the recent products and services available from Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, there will come a day soon where we’ll just have to worry about software and running our businesses as effectively as possible. We won’t have to have an “IT Department” any more than we’ll have to have a “Phone Department”. I know it’s crazy. I really have to get my head out of the clouds.