The Personal Cloud

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One of the most saturated and fiercely competitive emerging markets in the world today exists within cloud computing, specifically consumer/personal cloud computing.

There are a lot of different descriptions of what the personal cloud is, to me it means online storage, synchronization and streaming. Specifically, putting your data online, accessing it across all your devices and sharing it with others.

It’s understandable that there are so many companies jockeying for position within public cloud provision, it’s an exciting place. To be at the heart of a $2 trillion (according to market research guru’s Gartner) consumer spend on content, devices and associated services makes a lot of sense. However, despite there being such excitement about this sector (venture capitalists continue to pour millions of dollars into start ups) I think the days of the traditional cloud model are numbered, here’s why…

The amount of information we store online each year doubles, termed Zuckerberg’s Law by the press in reference to the prophetic statement made by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg back in 2008. As we store more music, pictures, docs and movies online than ever before we consumers are developing an insatiable appetite for more and more space, and like the over weight person that frequents all you can eat buffets, we are never satisfied.

Now, consider that online storage is already expensive and despite the industries best efforts servers farms aren’t getting any cheaper to run. Power costs are rising along with the number of clever bods needed to run them. As each public cloud competitor scrambles for users they offer better and better deals, more and more storage to feed the ever hungry and demanding consumer. The free storage of 1gb offered a couple of years ago seems like a pittance in comparison with the 5gb (or so) average now on offer.

What we seem to now have is a perfect storm, with providers margins being squeezed from both the hosting companies and the user. As a result public cloud providers are starting to feel the pressure.

Now I don’t want to end this article on a downer, so before you reach for the hard stuff, STOP! There is a way forward. I think we should be looking to the companies that embrace alternative technology to the traditional client-server model, who are able to harness and use the computing resources of their users. I suggest that that peer-to-peer (P2P) technology is a great starting place. This is obviously not a new technology but I think given the right execution it’s the way to go.

Like a friendly college professor, Wikipedia explains that P2P is where; “each computer in the network can act as a client or server for the other computers in the network, allowing shared access to files and peripherals without the need for a central server”. Basically put, P2P gets rid of server farms.

We may also see additional benefits, such as increased privacy, as public cloud providers are no longer to access and sell our data, data that is currently stored on their servers. Users are also likely to find increased capacity and robustness as the load is spread across all the users on the network rather than through a centralised server.

So, if we want to continue to store ever increasing amounts of data in the cloud and be able to access it across all our devices without incurring higher costs, (to have our cake and eat it) P2P might be just the ticket.

About the author: Nick Lambert is a digital marketer at LifeStuff (www.golifestuff.com), providers of free cloud storage.

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