Ok, to understand my point here, it’s important to understand the lengths I’m willing to go to in order to make a point. Right now I’m on the 8th deck of the cruise ship “Monarch of the Sea.” Before you ask, no, it is not the sister ship of “Chicken of the Sea.”

Anywho, here’s the fun part. I’m on day 3 of a 4-day cruise, taken under extreme suggestion from my lovely wife, Julie. Most folks, when they hear about going on a cruise, they immediately check out destinations, menus, activities, etc. Me? I’m checking out Wi-Fi, cellular charges, wanting to make sure that, fun or not, I’m as online as I need to be. Yup, that makes me at least a workaholic. And yup, it makes a saint out of Julie.

Now, here’s how it works. Cell charges change immediately to $2.75 a minute when out to sea (this is based on my provider, Sprint). And Wi-Fi is available, at (drum roll, please)…$.65/minute. And it’s only available at certain parts of the ship.

So, how do I get to my files? Working on my emails? Talking with my staff while I’m gone? Am I forced to pay a premium every time I want to talk to somebody or do anything with my data.

Welllllll, no. Actually it’s worked out pretty well (so far). And unlike web applications, most of my applications are installed on my laptop (Office, as an example). So here’s what I do.

  1. Open Outlook. Review my current emails, and write any new ones (or replies). But here’s the catch. Do this while offline, so I’m not being charged anything.
  2. Head to where there’s wireless (huh, go figure…a bar!). Connect to the ship’s wireless, and put Outlook back online. All my outgoing emails are sent, and all new emails waiting for me are delivered. Total time, a couple of minutes.
  3. Turn Outlook offline.
  4. Disconnect from the Wi-Fi network.
  5. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But what about files? No problem there, either. Because at Simplex-IT, we do a lot of our file work using our internal SharePoint site. And I’m synchronizing our files using Outlook 2010 (I could have just as easily created SharePoint Workspaces). Which means as soon as I connect, all new files added by anybody to our SharePoint site are automatically added to my Outlook, and I can edit those files offline as well.

And talking to my staff? Well, I’ve got the cell phone ($G$ulp). Or I can go with email. But how about using Office Communicator, which gives me an encrypted chat session with my folks (I can see while I’m online whether they’re available). Yeah, I have to be online for this, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The nice thing about this scenario is it highlights the benefit of both thin (where everything is in the cloud) and thick (where some or all of everything is installed locally) solutions. Relying solely on one strategy opens up several vulnerabilities. By combining the strategies, you give yourself an additional layer of protection and control. And it ain’t that expensive.

So, am I too reliant on the software installed on my laptop? What if, as my wife has threatened, she takes it snorkeling with her? Not a problem. Office 365 (Microsoft’s successor to BPOS) gives me the flexibility to work on Office files from any web-connected workstation.

Ok, let me clarify this. Not a problem in terms of my data. But I think I’d better get back with my wife before I put this to the test<g>.

Ummm…anybody think I could claim this cruise as a business deduction now?  No?  Ok, just a thought<g>.