Can you sack your IT department?

Simply setting and measuring service level agreements (SLAs) isn't enough either, warns Ian Emery, vice president of email appliance vendor Sendmail.

"Email it is a mission critical system. You can have SLAs but if something happens, it's all well and good to say You owe us 200,000 for August' but you still don't have your email working," he said. "The IT department needs to have a good understanding of what the infrastructure is, how it operates, how it integrates with services in the cloud, and what can go wrong."

But that still won't take as much time as running the service yourself. That could mean you end up with an IT department that can get on with the projects users want that they haven't had the time and resources for, a much smaller IT team that does little more than support laptops and keep the network running while business users design their own tools and processes or an IT team with a very different set of skills that's far closer to the rest of the business.

Case study: Serena Software Google Gadgets and mashups are the new VB

Jeremy Burton, the chief executive of Serena Software, carries a BlackBerry like many executives. But his BlackBerry doesn't connect to a Blackberry Enterprise Server and Exchange, because he's part of the company's trial group using Gmail instead.

The man who came up with no email Fridays' at Veritas blogs from his BlackBerry as he travels instead of sending all-hands email announcements. He's replaced the nightmare' corporate intranet with a Facebook group. It's all part of practicing what Serena preaches: that for the next generation of applications and users who will have wide experience with Web 2.0 and consumer technology, linking information together and having a process engine is more important than re-inventing the repository. And that new generation of applications are likely to be mashups.

Mary Branscombe

Mary is a freelance business technology journalist who has written for the likes of ITPro, CIO, ZDNet, TechRepublic, The New Stack, The Register, and many other online titles, as well as national publications like the Guardian and Financial Times. She has also held editor positions at AOL’s online technology channel, PC Plus, IT Expert, and Program Now. In her career spanning more than three decades, the Oxford University-educated journalist has seen and covered the development of the technology industry through many of its most significant stages.

Mary has experience in almost all areas of technology but specialises in all things Microsoft and has written two books on Windows 8. She also has extensive expertise in consumer hardware and cloud services - mobile phones to mainframes. Aside from reporting on the latest technology news and trends, and developing whitepapers for a range of industry clients, Mary also writes short technology mysteries and publishes them through Amazon.