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Report: Gartner Says Computing is Shifting to the Personal Cloud

A new report from Gartner suggests that by 2014 users will store more of their data in the cloud than on their personal computers. Gartner analysts said they believe that this shift will provide users with greater device flexibility and enable them to be more productive, while organizations will have to rethink their delivery of applications and services.

Gartner analysts identified five megatrends that are driving this shift toward the "personal cloud," as they call it. The megatrends are consumerization, virtualization, app-ification, the ever-available self-service cloud, and the mobility shift.

Consumerization describes the recent tendency for new technology to emerge first in the consumer market rather than the enterprise market. According to Gartner, consumerization has been taking place for most of the past decade, but the shift has reached a tipping point. Analysts point to numerous factors behind this shift, including increasing tech savviness of users, more powerful mobile devices, the rise of the Internet and social media, and the democratization of technology, meaning that users of all types and status have access to similar technology.

Virtualization gives IT departments more flexibility in their implementation of client environments. It enables new and legacy applications to run on a wider variety of devices, operating systems, and processor architectures. Through virtualization, users can use low-power devices to run applications that require considerable processing power.

App-ification describes a change in the way applications are being designed, delivered, and consumed by users. Apps enable users to access server- or cloud-resident applications on a variety of devices.

The ever-available self-service cloud refers to the wide variety of services now available to users to store their data online. People can choose their own applications, services, and content, and their digital activities are more self-directed than ever before.

The mobility shift is the result of increased use of smartphones and tablets. When combined with the cloud, these devices can accomplish most computing tasks. Improvements in user interfaces, such as the addition of touch- and gesture-based controls, as well as speech recognition and contextual awareness, are making mobile devices more useable.

"Many call this era the post-PC era, but it isn't really about being 'after' the PC, 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," said Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner in a prepared statement.

The full report, "The New PC Era: The Personal Cloud," is available on the Gartner site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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