Will the personal cloud reign supreme over the personal computer in your digital life? Photo: Karen Ka Ying Wong/Flickr
There’s no doubting the cloud invasion. But the research firm Gartner believes the personal cloud will replace the PC as the center of our digital lives sooner than you might think: 2014.
“Major trends in client computing have shifted the market away from a focus on personal computers to a broader device perspective that includes smartphones, tablets and other consumer devices,” Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement on Monday. “Emerging cloud services will become the glue that connects the web of devices that users choose to access during the different aspects of their daily life.”
Google plans a cloud-centered future with Google Play and its market-leading Android mobile OS. But the personal computer will also not miss out on the cloud, as Microsoft and Apple are planning to weave the cloud into the next generation of their desktop operating systems, Windows 8, and OS X Mountain Lion.
But a cloud-happy future will not be as easy as that, because “it will require enterprises to fundamentally rethink how they deliver applications and services to users.” That’s a point echoed by two new bloggers at Cloudline. Todd B. Nielsen outlines what he sees as the perfect storm for cloud computing, noting that he is “in awe at the businesses and executives that are not treating cloud computing as a strategy to improve their company.” And Contributor Alexander Haislip drove home the missed-opportunity sentiment recently in his post, What the New iPad Won’t Do:
The new iPad may be the most impressive piece of computing hardware I’ve ever seen. Yet its true power is held back by large enterprise software corporations that cannot keep pace with the new devices designed with cloud computing in mind…. It’s as if they’ve completely ignored one of the most successful computing platforms ever built, outselling the total number of PCs its closest competitor sold last quarter.
With the new iPad sold out, it seems only a matter of time that those not on board with the cloud — and with their wares available on any device — will face an existential question.
And Gartner says a number of factors are converging to make for a perfect personal cloud storm by 2014:
Megatrend No. 1: Consumerization — You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet
Gartner has discussed the consumerization of IT for the better part of a decade, and has seen the impact of it across various aspects of the corporate IT world. However, much of this has simply been a precursor to the major wave that is starting to take hold across all aspects of information technology as several key factors come together:
- Users are more technologically-savvy and have very different expectations of technology.
- The internet and social media have empowered and emboldened users.
- The rise of powerful, affordable mobile devices changes the equation for users.
- Users have become innovators.
- Through the democratization of technology, users of all types and status within organizations can now have similar technology available to them.
Megatrend No. 2: Virtualization — Changing How the Game Is Played
Virtualization has improved flexibility and increased the options for how IT organizations can implement client environments….
Megatrend No. 3: “App-ification” — From Applications to Apps
When the way that applications are designed, delivered and consumed by users changes, it has a dramatic impact on all other aspects of the market….
Megatrend No. 4: The Ever-Available Self-Service Cloud
The advent of the cloud for servicing individual users opens a whole new level of opportunity. Every user can now have a scalable and nearly infinite set of resources available for whatever they need to do….
Megatrend No. 5: The Mobility Shift — Wherever and Whenever You Want
Today, mobile devices combined with the cloud can fulfill most computing tasks, and any tradeoffs are outweighed in the minds of the user by the convenience and flexibility provided by the mobile devices….
“The combination of these megatrends, coupled with advances in new enabling technologies, is ushering in the era of the personal cloud,” Gartner’s Kleynhans said. “In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organization to worry about. Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role. Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared in the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself.”
But he says it’s not about the oft-referenced post-PC era, “but rather about a new style of personal computing that frees individuals to use computing in fundamentally new ways to improve multiple aspects of their work and personal lives.”
That’s a point former Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie made recently, saying, “People argue about, ‘Are we in a post-PC world?’. Why are we arguing? Of course we are in a post-PC world,” Ozzie is is reported to have said at a GeekWire-sponsored conference last week. ”That doesn’t mean the PC dies; that just means that the scenarios that we use them in, we stop referring to them as PCs, we refer to them as other things.” Ozzie, who left Microsoft in 2010, started a company called Cocomo, which he said last week has it sights set on the center of the personal cloud storm: mobility and communications.
The cloud platform has become a real option for companies needing managed, pay-as-you-use IT capacity. But you have to squint hard to see the emerging personal cloud. That future is already here, as William Gibson would say, but it’s unevenly distributed.
I see signs of the personal cloud in services like Dropbox, Evernote, and Flickr. You can use them for free, or you can pay for higher capacity and enhanced customer service. But the personal cloud also arises from a way of thinking about, and using, any of the services the web provides.
Weigh in: Will the personal cloud replace your personal computer at the center of your digital life? Extra fodder for discussion: Any way we can rebrand to drop “PC” once and for all, or is it now set to live on for another generation?
The Cloud Movement Has Begun–is your business ready for the Shift?