I work with clients who are ooooed and aaaahed by "The Cloud!" Apparently, it is the place to go... the only place to be. BUT- a small voice in my head (the voice of the network designer in me) says... well... let's look at that a bit more closely.
Assuming that almost every business out there has some kind of a server/client application with a hefty database that needs a server to call home and a bunch of local users running a PC application software (a la Quick Books, HR, or AutoCAD) that need to access that data, the cloud is not right for that kind of system. Assuming you have a domain controller server lurking around somewhere, that should also remain onsite in a piece of hardware to offer control of users, general network devices, printer management, secured access, group policy management and such.
The cloud can handle just about everything else you could want. Microsoft CRM in the cloud, Hosted Exchange, IM, file storage, all kinds of collaborative tools are there. Office 365 and Microsoft CRM are amazingly well-synced in the cloud and there are some very good promotions and incentives on these two handed down by Redmond, WA from time to time.
Sounds like a strange way to bolt your network up? Not really - as it is still a large part of the network re-configurations we do now. If your key line of business application is in the cloud and you have a very distributed workforce, maybe you can get away with no domain and no local hardware but the networks I am talking about are not in Europe where that layout (and therefore the possibility of doing without a Domain Controller) is more prevalent. Office 365 is changing that model though.
Networks have always been a bit like Frankenstein with pieces of this and that sewn together on the bench in your Mad (IT) Scientist's lab. Sometimes a leg or an arm had an issue but it was replaced with parts that were sourced from Dell or IBM or whoever had the freshest donor parts. The only difference now is that the head and arm plus some other bits are online.
We have our own laboratory here at Beringer and our Mad (IT) Scientists have been doing on-premise, all-cloud and hybrid networks for years. With a healthy discussion, some vision planning and a lightning bolt or two, we can take the fright out of bringing your newest hybrid network monster to life.
When hosted servers; Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, etc. really hit their stride for SMBs (and that time is rapidly approaching) things will look a bit different. You may disagree, but it is coming and we will eventually use ALL the things we need online. Until then, contact Beringer to discuss the options and plan your first steps to the cloud, while still leaving a hybrid "leg" in the server room.