Consumer Cloud Storage Will Skyrocket by 2016: Report

Consumers will store more than a third of their digital content in the cloud by 2016, according to research firm Gartner. That represents a significant spike from 2011, when an estimated 7 percent of consumer content was stored in the cloud.

Gartner believes consumers’ affinity for mobile devices such as smartphones and cameras—particularly those with high-end camera apertures—will help drive this increasing need for digital storage. Indeed, the firm predicted that consumer need for storage will climb from 329 exabytes in 2011 to 4.1 zettabytes in 2016; the average amount of data stored by a household will increase from 464GB in 2011 to 3.3TB within the next four years.

“As we enter the post-PC era, consumers are using multiple connected devices, the majority of which are equipped with cameras,” Shalini Verma, principal research analyst at Gartner, wrote in a June 25 research note. “With the emergence of the personal cloud, this fast-growing consumer digital content will quickly get disaggregated from connected devices.”

In other words, consumers are going to use the cloud more than ever to store content they download and create with their devices. “Cloud storage will grow with the emergence of the personal cloud,” Verma added, “which in turn will simplify the direct-to-cloud model, allowing users to directly store user-generated content in the cloud.”

A number of consumer companies—including tech titans such as Google, Microsoft and Apple—offer storage via their respective public clouds. You can store documents on SkyDrive or Dropbox, keep your music collection on Google Play or iCloud, and back up your vacation photos on Flickr.

On the business front, the cloud is much more front-and-center with regard to employees’ daily workflow. Services such as Google Apps and Microsoft’s Office 365 have taken productivity software online, while Salesforce, Oracle and other companies are rapidly proliferating cloud-based tools for CRM and other business functions.

In both the consumer and business contexts, on-premise applications and storage are clearly giving way to their cloud-based equivalents; and if Gartner’s note is accurate, that trend will only continue over the next few years.


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