I have been a bit silly last week, and forgot to bring my laptop to work. Simply forgot that its on my desk in the study, just picked up an empty laptop bag and got in the car. I then drove for over 1 hour to client site, and upon arrival, realised that I dont have my only tool for the job. Not smart.
However, what followed left a huge positive impression on me. The client is a large public sector organisation, with a number of devices kept in storage for quick provisioning. Whilst it would take some time to set up a corporate account, actually provisioning a guest log-in on a blank laptop taken out of storage is quick. I could have always borrowed a laptop from someone who is not there...
I borrowed a machine from them, logged in as a guest (no access to corporate network, or anything). I then got onto the guest wi-fi connection, using the same login as I had for my normal machine.
Arcus is fully running on Google Apps (free edition for now, although we are about to upgrade). With ad-hoc file storage in Drop Box, and a simple Wiki solution (MindTouch) for knowledge capture and structured document management. All other apps are SaaS.
So, from starting on a completely foreign laptop (only borrowing it for a day), I have installed Google Chrome (IE7 did not support Google Apps properly, but IE 8 would...) - which takes about minute (download is 3.6 MB in size). That was it...
I could access the rest over the internet:
DropBox has a web client that allows you to see all your files - this only needs a login / password. I had access to an up-to-date copy of my entire hard drive (work files only). Structure, folders and everything else.
Google Apps gives me access to all shared documents and drives that are "work in progress". Also, e-mail, full address book, chat to everyone in our company, as well as domain control tools.
I also had full access to MindTouch (which I didn't need that day). Xero, our accounting programme is SaaS. We use Zoho CRM to track engagements - happy to see me log in from any browser (not IE6). Both of our banks have full web access. Even HMRC (I had to briefly log in to change someone's employment details) gives a full portal access.
So I was up and running within about 2 minutes. Not partially, but fully up to speed! I have never been part of a corporate environment where this was a reality. Sure - this state of events is always discussed, but how many people are still storing files on hard drive? How many still have PSTs from Outlook. What about local software? Here, I had my normal working environment. The only thing really missing, was my player history on Freecell.
I appreciate that not all applications are available online just yet - but this could be done through virtualisation in the short term. I appreciate that a different level of security will be required for some - but it would take little effort to introduce single sign on two factor authentication to all of the above. I also understand that people are nervous about this whole thing. But surely - for the sake of never having to worry about losing/forgetting you number 1 corporate tool (if no data is ever kept on it) and being able to be up and running in minutes on ANY internet connected device - isn't it worth at least trying? This was a fantastic "real" pilot for me - and it worked!