The Personal Cloud

What is the personal cloud?

A personal cloud is an approach to cloud computing for individuals, a shift away from the dominant model of cloud computing today on “the public cloud”.

To appreciate the difference, let’s look at how an application differs in each model.

Public cloud application model

The “public cloud” application model is visible in the relationships between users, an application, and infrastructure in a “public cloud” app:

In this model, all end users interact share the same “app”, which consists of a large block of ‘computing’ resources in the cloud: servers, databases, and more. They interact with this block by logging in to the application via the internet, and the application gives them selective access to views and data they are authorized to interact with.

These individual users don’t have direct access to the cloud provider and resources that power the application - even if it’s their specific data. These resources are controlled and managed by the companies that build the application, which serve as an intermediary (they are also the cloud provider’s customers).

Personal cloud application model

The “personal cloud” application model is a return to the personal computer model, but in the cloud. In this model, the relationships between users, applications, and infrastructure change:

In this model, apps aren’t made up of one giant shared pool of resources for all users. Instead, each user gets their own separate copy of each app, in their own cloud. The computing resources that power the application are managed and controlled by the end user, who logs in to their cloud directly.

One person, many applications

Now let’s jump out of our simple model. Individuals don’t use single applications on the internet — they use many. As we expand the above model to cover a person using multiple applications on the internet, we’ll see new possibilities emerge.

For each app a person uses on the internet, they log in separately to use them (on a personal computer, you log in once). And in doing so, the previous model applies (each app is shared across all users, users don’t have access to the underlying resources, etc). Each app is, for all intents and purposes, separate: they live with different companies, they have different interfaces, and they do not communicate.

In a personal cloud, this dynamic changes. Not only do people get a personal copies of each app, but they can get many personal copies of many apps. Because these apps live on the same “computer”, it becomes easier for the user to start directing interactions across these applications and their data.

This is akin to personal computer, where there is a user, a pool of data, and many applications that all work in concert to achieve the user’s objectives.

Read more about why we think this matters.