Dec 092010

Starting in 2011, a new type of Cloud is rising in the distance. This cloud isn’t about enterprise class computing or the data center: it’s about information; information about you. Today, every individual has information about him/herself — relationships, digital devices under our control, etc. — spewed across the Internet. Often this information is automatically generated; it’s a form of digital exhaust trailing us as a by-product of how we interact with the Internet. Today, we have little or no control about how this information is used. We are each subject to lopsided and confusing “terms and conditions” for every consumer service. The concept of privacy is continually re-interpreted by Internet-based service providers.

The concept of a Personal Cloud is bigger than just computing; it may also include your very own Personal Cloud Computer as part of the service. A Personal Cloud … huh? It’s simply a tightly controlled, virtualized, digital instance of everything about you as an individual, and encompasses the span of information within your responsibility. Your Personal Cloud is accessible, and updatable, by you (and only you or your designee) anytime, anywhere, and anyhow (through any device).

Consider the Personal Cloud as digital lockbox that you have full control over. What might I manage in my Personal Cloud? My name (and unique identity), social security number, digital wallets, security tokens, physical attributes, hereditary information , personal health information (PHI), electronic health record (EHR), family relationships, relationships with other individuals, social media preferences, advertising preferences for products and services, personal consumer sentiments, personal social causes, information about digital devices under my control … the list goes on and on. Most important, though, are the flexible and configurable opt in and opt out settings which allow me to direct how all this information is secured, used and shared.

Many of the enabling technologies for Personal Cloud are here today, or are beginning to emerge on the Semantic Web. Constructs such as PKI, OpenID, FOAF, POWDER, etc. may become integral to the solution. The Personal Cloud puts control of privacy, back in the hands of individuals, where it belongs.

[Editor’s Note: This post is part of the annual “Cutter Predicts …” series, compiled at the Cutter Consortium website.]


Mitchell Ummel

Mitchell Ummel is Director of Cutter's Government & Public Sector practice and a Senior Consultant with Cutter's Business & Enterprise Architecture practice.


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