In the collaborative space, it's easy for an enterprise to get in bed with one vendor. Free web apps are particularly attractive, but unfortunately they often come with a dear price. Your company's data.For the sake of example, let's pick on Google and GMail. Migrating over to a new email client after you've been using GMail is no easy to task. If you grow from an SMB to a large enterprise overnight, it's difficult to change which hosted app you use. Same goes for all those Google Docs you utilize on a day to day basis. All those attractive and free applications have an ugly side - locking in your data is an important part of the way these vendors do business.How can the enterprise avoid this issue? For starters, it would be wise to choose a vendor that gives the user options on where and how their data is stored. In this way, web-based vendors would be wise to mirror desktop applications. If a user can choose their data storage, this proprietary format can be avoided. There shouldn't be a data store attached to the app. At the very least, the user should be able to opt out of data storage on the provider's servers.As early adopters discover that their free service actually comes with a price, it will be interesting to see what type of next-generation hosted applications emerge.
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