The “reign of the personal computer as the sole corporate access device” is coming to an end, and by 2014 the personal cloud will replace the personal computer at the center of users' digital lives, according to new report by research firm Gartner Inc.

Gartner analysts say the personal cloud will begin a new era that will give users a new level of flexibility with the devices they use for daily activities, ultimately leading to greater user satisfaction and productivity. But enterprises will need to fundamentally rethink how they deliver applications and services to users, the firm notes.

"Major trends in client computing have shifted the market away from a focus on personal computers to a broader device perspective that includes smartphones, tablets and other consumer devices," Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement. "Emerging cloud services will become the glue that connects the web of devices that users choose to access during the different aspects of their daily life."

Several driving forces are combining to create this new era, according to the Gartner report, entitled "The New PC Era: The Personal Cloud."

One trend is the consumerization of IT, with users becoming more technologically savvy and having different expectations of technology. In addition, the Internet and social media, as well as the emergence of powerful, affordable mobile devices have empowered IT consumers.

Other key trends include virtualization, which has improved flexibility and increased the options for how IT organizations can implement client environments; the advent of the cloud for servicing individual users; and the ongoing shift to mobility.

"The combination of these megatrends, coupled with advances in new enabling technologies, is ushering in the era of the personal cloud," Kleynhans said. "In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organization to worry about. Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role. Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared in the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself."

 

 

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