personal cloud

Imagining the public cloud, we often think of cumulus puffs way up in the sky.

Big, white fluffy things — hey that one looks like a dinosaur! — but with the rise of the personal cloud, perhaps we should instead imagine that we’re all now in the shadow of own little clouds.

But these aren’t dark storms following each and every one of us, the way that rain cloud followed Joe Btfsplk in cartoonist Al Capp's satirical comic strip, Li'l Abner.

Nope ... these are like the thought bubbles in comics, and it’s data that will help us fill them in.

Everyone Wants a Personal Cloud

Before we go too far with that mixed metaphor, let’s just say that whatever shape you imagine it, the personal cloud is set to grow. According to research from Allied Market Research, the personal cloud market could reap $89.9 billion in annual revenue by 2020 on a global scale, which would represent yearly growth of 33.1 percent between now and then.

The personal cloud, so defined, is a cloud storage platform that allows users to access, synch and share data and files across multiple mobile devices.

The relevance of this technology cannot be understated given the ever-forward push toward mobile devices and wearables. One commentator recently called the personal cloud “one of the most important changes that will come out of the rise of wearable devices.”

For techie Joe Silverman, owner of New York Computer Help, an IT computer support company, this approach gains in convenience and data redundancy, but loses out slightly in security.

"In essence, the personal cloud is merging with the public cloud for better redundancy, although security is called into question as soon as files leave the personal, private network," he says.

Data, Data Everywhere

With security in mind, then, perhaps North American users will turn more to private clouds, essentially networks built with hardware in their own establishments — such as network attached storage (NAS) device for businesses or media players, gaming consoles and smart TVs for individuals.

"As the number of successful hacking efforts increases and more user data becomes exposed, I believe users will turn to personal cloud solutions rather than public cloud solutions," says Bill Carey, vice president of marketing for GoodSync, a file synchronization software.

Risks or not, more and more of us are destined to have our own personal cloud. Allied Market Research attributes the potential personal cloud growth to a number of factors.

There is the steep incline in the number of mobile devices in the world and their users’ demands for terabytes of storage space for their photos and videos.

Cue personal cloud providers like Apple, Dropbox, Google, Microsoft and Box. The researchers also point to organizations carrying out bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, pushing employees to their own phones and their own storage options.

Concurrently, some employers are also developing virtual workplaces using personal cloud storage solutions. Individual users could make up 60 percent of the market by 2020, while small business users — the fastest growing user base — could make up 25 percent.

Worldwide Trends

Internationally, the authors are forecasting a "major turnaround" in the personal cloud market between now and 2020 thanks to users in Asia-Pacific. If their predictions are right,

Asia-Pacific users would constitute 40 percent of the market by 2020, even more than North America and Europe. Why? It seems that users in Asia-Pacific show a greater tendency toward carrying around multiple devices (and enjoy faster broadband networks).

It appears, then, in Asia we'll really first see the personal cloud of the futurist's dream — like that thought bubble that always follows us around, and perhaps like a magic carpet ride that allows users to float through their day with all their phone, tablet and wearables synched for maximum entertainment and productivity.

Title image by lionel abrial.