What Questions To Ask The Personal Cloud Panel At Forrester's IT Forum

I’m excited to be returning to the ideas of the Personal Cloud report that I published last July. In that report, I described how computing by individuals will shift from being device-centric, as it is today, to be being information-centric across devices and online services. Think of Personal Cloud as the following idea:

Federated sets of Internet-based digital services for individuals that act as a permanent and flexible resource to:
1) organize and preserve personal information, documents, media, and communications;
2) deliver that information on demand to any device or service; and
3) orchestrate integration of personal information across all digital devices and services.

Personal cloud service providers will build a combination of a data center cloud software platform, browser-based code to enable rich Web experiences, and device-level player or presentation code for richer experiences than the browser can provide, including offline access. And they will create an ecosystem of complementary software and service providers on top of their own offerings.

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 27th, I’ll be hosting a panel on Personal Cloud at the Forrester IT Forum with three executives at companies that are building elements of the personal cloud ecosystem:

Adam Gross, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales, Dropbox 
T.A. McCann
, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Gist 
Laura Yecies
, Chief Executive Officer, SugarSync

Here are some of the questions I’d like to discuss with the panel, and I’d welcome any suggestions for questions:

Forget the Forrester definition of personal cloud for a moment . . . really.

  1. How do you think personal/individual computing is evolving, and what would you call the next phase?
  2. What are the key enabling technologies, information elements, and ideas?
    1. What are the drivers and enablers?
    2. What are the key information or content elements?
    3. Are the customer needs latent or overt?
  3. Who are the customers, and what are the offerings?
    1. Many players have focused first on consumers but are shifting to SMBs. Why? Will the enterprise become a factor and when?
    2. Who are the most interesting players to watch so far?
    3. How does it vary across developed and developing economies?
  4. What are the business models of personal cloud?
  5. Who are the investors and acquirers?
  6. Who are the players with a head start, anchor companies and specialists?
    1. What role do the anchor players perform, and how should they build out?
    2. What role do the specialists perform, and how should they build out?
    3. What other industries and players are affected and how? ISVs, carriers, OS makers, device makers, service providers? What about outside the technology industry?
  7. What are the technical and business barriers to developing the personal cloud, for service providers and for the market overall?
  8. How will personal cloud technologies and services evolve?

We won’t have time to get to all the questions, but we will have fun trying.

Which ones should we focus on?

What else should I ask?

I want to start by asking each panelist how much customer data they have under management and how fast it is growing. And what’s the right metric for measuring that – is it raw petabytes, number of objects, users?

Online backup services Carbonite and Mozy have made public comments about having 15 to 20 petabytes under management . . . wow!


Personal Cloud

I’m looking forward to the panel, thank you for the invitation to participate. It should be a timely discussion.

In addition to the questions above, I also believe that mobile access is a big tipping point for personal clouds. The cloud is no longer just about marrying devices with online services, it’s about leveraging the power, connectivity and apps already available on smartphones (and now the iPad), adding your data, to turn mobile devices into full-fledged computers. With limited local storage, personal clouds with unlimited storage become 10x more relevant than before. Relevant not only to users and companies like SugarSync, but to carriers and mobile device manufacturers. The cloud is a major catalyst for all of us.

Backup is still a key benefit of the cloud, but sync is the critical enabler since much of today’s data is still created on the desktop. Over time, we see people embracing personal clouds as a central repository for all of their data, and envision Web apps and personal clouds working in sweet harmony.

Talk to you tomorrow,

Laura Yecies
CEO, SugarSync Inc.

Run your personal cloud

Data privacy and ownership are the key enablers as well. Also, now the network endpoints (homes) create tera bytes of data which probably is not feasible to store everything on public clouds.

Tonido clearly delivers on the first 2 key points that you have mentioned here.
1) organize and preserve personal information, documents, media, and communications;
2) deliver that information on demand to any device or service;

Using Tonido's underlying peer-2-peer platform, point number 3 is clearly achievable.

Some of the Tonido applications already do that. For Ex. syncing photos and files across Tonido nodes.