This blog is not about hardware and software, so much as it is about "peopleware." I think the chief purpose of governance is to focus on the needs and wants of the people served, and find ways to bend technology to meet those requirements. Sadly, governance usually means getting together and deciding what people can't do, and finding ways to prevent them from making choices.
So, although I think that SharePoint offers the very best collaboration layer for any organization, let's not forget Google and Apple. I think it is just plain foolish to marginalize Apple and Google just because one is sold on SharePoint and its associated products.
A truly world-class governance strategy will provide the people with the opportunity to use various technologies in the pursuit of their business goals, while maintaining enough structure and best practice to keep things under control.
So, how do the various technologies fit together in a robust governance environment? Well, I consider myself a pretty good source for solving that problem since I've been contributing author on two Microsoft Press SharePoint books, used to run an Apple Store, have a cousin who is a Google "rock star", and am primarily concerned with making organizations run smoothly. The real world is not a sole source environment. I am currently writing this on a Mac Book Air 13" that runs Windows and Mac OS in parallel, because the Mac Air is the best hardware platform on the planet right now, IMHO.
So, when do you use various technologies?
1. SharePoint. SharePoint is, in my opinion, the only viable foundation technology for the modern organization. It offers collaboration, flexibility, data mining, workflow management, code-free customization and does so in a manner that allows people to work in a natural manner. It has a very robust security layer, and it is built to be deployed and maintianed by a real world IT shop under real world conditions. So, in my world, if you are trying to provide maximum flexibility, collaboration, adaptability, security and sustainability in an organization, SharePoint is the only show in town.
2. Office365. Not everybody has the staff, drive or interest in implementing SharePoint and bringing it up to its full potential, and yet even the smallest organization needs what SharePoint has to offer. So, Microsoft has launched a very useable and effective "by the drink" model for small to mid-sized organizations. At $6/month/user, the price is pretty amazing. It offers SharePoint, Exchange email services, and online MS Office applications. I use Office365 for my personal business needs.
3. Google Docs and Google Sites. Google is a strong player in most things digital. Their tools are free, powerful, and appeal to tech-savy users. The problem is that Google's tools are more like Legos than a finished turn-key product. It is more like a tool kit than an integrated solution. So if you like putzing around with your computer for the fun of it, then Google is a great source of entertainment and free applications.
4. Apple's iCloud. This is a great tool for the individual who wants to share music, photographs, individual documents and other consumer applications across their personal devices. If you want to buy a song on iTunes and have it available on your iPad, iPod, Mac Air, and iPhone (all of which I own) then this is the way to go. There is no putzing around, and no hassle. It just works. I currently use MobileMe and will definitely upgrade to iCloud when it is available--for my personal stuff.
A truly robust and mature governance approach needs to recognize and make provision for all these technologies, and perhaps EverNote, DropBox and others as well. IT is simply not able to meet all of the demands the users have, at least not in a timely fashion. So, as a matter of self preservation, IT and Business Governance need to think well outside the box in solving user problems.
A recommended "thumbnail strategy" for leveraging the various technologies available is as follows.
1. Enterprise Collaboration and Document Management = SharePoint. I HIGHLY recommend using SharePoint as your in-house solution architecture for your organization.
2. Office365 for potential use in regional offices and other "small staff" locations.
3. Although I wouldn't encourage it, people are going to use iCloud, Google Docs, Evernote, DropBox and the like (I do). Set up policies explaining that they are taking responsibility for protecting those documents, just as they would if they put paper copies in their brief case and took them home. Establish procedures for checking these documents into the SharePoint environment.
4. Consider the possibility of "opening up" the desktop to user modification. If you are keeping your documents and applications within the browser, you may find that there is wisdom in letting people police their own desktops. Establish a base installation image, and if they crash their system then you will re-image their machine. It is up to them to manage their own ad-hoc apps and keep their documents someplace safe.