One of the bigger challenges when it comes to embracing any kind of collaboration platform in the cloud is finding a way of getting that new platform to play nice with existing on-premise collaboration platforms.
The folks at Box.net are going to take that challenge on today with the release of ECM Cloud Connect, a set of interfaces to over 40 different enterprise content management systems, including Microsoft SharePoint and EMC Documentum.
According to Box.net COO Dan Levin, as Box.net moves upstream to become a collaboration platform for the enterprise, customers have been stressing their need to find a seamless way of migrating between their existing on-premise platforms and a new cloud computing service. The simple fact of the matter is that nobody is going to toss, for example, an implementation of Microsoft SharePoint out overnight just to embrace Box.net. The migration from an on-premise application to a cloud computing service generally takes time, especially when you consider the challenges associated with replicating customer applications that were built on one platform on a totally different architecture.
More difficult yet, when it comes to cross-company collaboration, it's impossible to demand that every company your organization does business with must standardize on the same collaboration platform.
As a practical matter, all the promoting of any cloud computing service in the world is not going to make much of a difference in the enterprise without some effort to reduce the friction associated with adopting that new platform. Of course, that means that the concept of hybrid cloud computing is going to be with us for years to come simply because the transition process from one environment to another will take many companies years to complete. In fact, most of them may never fully transition to a cloud computing service, instead preferring to run both environments side by side for any number of regulatory, security or simple human inertia issues.
In a perfect world, companies would only have one type of platform per application. Alas, that perfect world doesn't exist, so by definition enterprise computing will always be imperfect to one degree or another.