Here's a friendly message from Jeffrey Kaplan, director of THINKstrategies, an independent consulting firm:

Over a year ago, I suggested that it was time for IT decision-makers and their staffs take a look at Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and cloud computing alternatives to traditional on-premise applications and systems. The time to consider these alternatives is over. Those who don't make the move in 2010 will not only be left behind but will risk losing their jobs as well. All the arguments I made for considering SaaS and cloud computing in 2008 have only become stronger as we enter a new year.

That might wake you up. Kaplan's manifesto, published at EarthWeb, is a cloud computing clarion call that shouldn't be ignored. He goes on:

A couple of years ago, cloud computing was considered a crazy idea by many IT professionals who could not conceive of moving parts of their data center operations or any of their business applications to the Web. Today, it is becoming the norm. Even Gartner proclaimed last October that cloud computing would be the top strategic technology in 2010.

Kaplan points out that it's not such a stretch to leverage third-party resources to add to in-house capabilities. He equates SaaS and cloud computing to that, noting that they're even cheaper and easier than earlier strategies. Try a SaaS free trial before you subscribe, he says, and see what happens.

Of course, you don't want to simply surrender to hype. Kaplan says: 

No one is suggesting that organizations will move their entire IT operation to the clouds. Instead, we will continue to live in a hybrid world composed of a mix of on-premise and on-demand resources which will continuously be adjusted to meet evolving operational requirements and take advantage of rapidly evolving cloud-based alternatives.

--Don Willmott