In this year’s top technology predictions, Gartner predicts that the notion of personal cloud will replace the notion of personal computer. The cloud will house all aspects of one’s life, Gartner says. Because it’s so vast, and capable of marshalling infinite resources, “no one platform, form factor, technology or vendor will dominate it”.
If you are like me, you don’t like people touching your computer. It comes from that bitter experience where you allowed someone to use your computer and when returning to use it yourself later on, it didn’t work properly. And so we became protective of our personal computers. It held our data, our settings and was our work tool. Recent advancements in the personal computer made it possible to create profiles for users so that the settings and data of each user were partitioned from the other users meaning that the PC was some sort of personal cloud, although operating on dedicated hardware and not accessible from the Internet. Even so, after having more than one computer stop working through naive sabotage, permission to use my computer was given concurrently with the crossing of fingers and hoping nothing untoward happened to my system.
The notion of personal cloud is similar to the concept of a personal computer except there is no dedicated hardware. It means that the operating system, all the applications you use and the settings remain in your own personal cloud.
There are a few other factors that are required for the cloud component. The user’s personal cloud must be accessible via the Internet. It means that any device that is operating a web browser should be able to access the user’s personal cloud. For the cloud to be personal, the owner must be able to:
For experienced IT professionals, the personal cloud sounds a lot like Citrix which started providing Winframe and later Metaframe as a business grade personal cloud over a decade ago. It goes to prove that these latest and greatest concepts are simply advancements on old ideas, pimped up with fancy names and marketing in order to create a marketing differentiated position.
The concept of personal cloud is certainly viable as was the Citrix solution mentioned in the previous paragraph. If the applications that the user wants run in the personal cloud operating system, then for certain personal cloud can work for those users. But there are still some genuine challenges. One of the issues is that not all applications written for web browsers are the same. For example, the way one application operates in Google Chrome is not always the same as it operates in Apple iOS. Google apps is a great example of this. The desktop version is fantastic, however the iPad edition is almost unusable. There is no doubt in time standardisation will help to alleviate these differences although we have been hoping for this for quite some time, however it just doesn’t seem to eventuate.
There is no doubt that personal cloud is going to emerge as a better alternative to applications, data and settings residing on a dedicated, personal computer. Whether Gartner’s prediction is correct for 2013 only time will tell. They certainly make mistakes in their predictions. On a side note, maybe they should produce a report on Gartner’s top ten incorrect predictions. The entire industry seems to take their word as gospel.