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By 13 March 2012 | Categories: news

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In today’s tech-filled world, both individual and business users need to have access to their services, content and applications - wherever and whenever they want. Market research company Gartner believes that this need for mobility, along with the rise of cloud computing and the increasing availability of more powerful as well as affordable mobile devices and form factors, are the major driving forces behind a new era in information technology (IT).     

The company believes this new era will lead to the reign of the personal computer (PC) as the sole corporate access device coming to a close, as the firm believes that by 2014 personal cloud will replace the PC as the center of users’ digital lives.
 
Gartner analysts said that the personal cloud will herald a new era, which will provide users with a level of flexibility with the devices they utilise for all their daily activities, whilst at the same time leveraging the strengths of each device. This will ultimately allow for new levels of user satisfaction as well as user productivity. However, it will require enterprises to fundamentally alter their thinking patterns around how to deliver applications and services to their clients.

“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,” explained Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner. “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.”

The research company stated that over the course of the last couple of years, there have been significant changes within the client computing space, leading to many corporations asking what will come next and what will this field look like in five years time.

“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,” Kleynhans said.

Kleynhans also added that numerous driving forces are combining, in order to establish this new era. According to Gartner, these megatrends or driving forces are:

1. Consumerisation of IT

Although the consumerisation of IT certainly isn’t a new phenomenon, Gartner believes that much of its impact thus far, has simply been a precursor to a major wave.

According to the company, this wave is starting to take hold across all aspects of IT as several key factors combine, which include:
  • users becoming more technologically savvy as the internet as well as social networking have empowered and emboldened them.
  • the increasing availability of capable and affordable mobile devices that have resulted in a growth in the user base for these devices.
  • users have become innovators, since they can submit their own applications and have these distributed via the applicable app store.
  • via the democratisation of technology, users of all types and status within companies  can now have similar technology available to them.
2. Virtualisation

Gartner stated that virtualisation has boosted the flexibility and increased the options for how IT firms can implement client environments. Virtualisation has, to some extent, freed applications from the peculiarities of individual devices, operating systems and even processor architectures.

This according to the company, provides access for low-power devices to much-greater processing power, thus expanding their utility and increasing the reach of processor-intensive applications.

3. “App-ification” - From Applications to Apps

Gartner said that when the manner in which applications are created, made available and consumed by users is altered, it results in a significant impact on all other aspects of the market. These changes will have a profound impact on how applications are written and managed within corporate environments as well.

They also raise the prospect of greater cross-platform portability as small user experience (UX) apps are employed to adjust a server- or cloud-resident application to the unique characteristics of a specific device or user scenario. One application can now be utilised in varying situations by its users.

4. The ever-available self-service cloud

The advent of the cloud for servicing individual users opens a whole new level of opportunity, according to Garner, as each user now has a scalable and almost infinite set of resources available to them, for whatever they are required to do. The impacts for IT infrastructures are stunning, but when this is applied to the individual, the company said that there are some specific benefits that emerge.

These include the fact that individual users’ digital activities are far more self-directed than ever before. Users need to make their own choices about the applications, services and content they need or want, by selecting from a nearly limitless collection accessible from the web. This encourages a culture of self-service that users will then expect in all aspects of their digital experience.

5. The shift towards mobility

Gartner stated that mobile devices in combination with the cloud, can fulfill most computing tasks, and any trade-offs are outweighed in the minds of the user by the convenience as well as  flexibility provided by these mobile devices.

The company added that the emergence of more-natural user interface experiences is making mobility practical, as touch- and gesture-based user experiences, coupled with speech and contextual awareness, are enabling enhanced ways of device interaction.

“The combination of these megatrends, coupled with advances in new enabling technologies, is ushering in the era of the personal cloud,” Kleynhans stated. “In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organisation 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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