Cloud computing has evolved from being simply a more efficient and cost-effective tool for organizations to store and access data to a new way of computing. It has provided solution providers with the ability to create recurring revenue streams by moving many of their customers’ IT functions to the cloud—from providing software as a service (SaaS) to even infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

Throughout the transition, the one main debate centers around which type of cloud environment is best: public, private or hybrid? Most organizations, as they migrate more toward operating in a cloud computing environment, end up with a hybrid approach in which solution providers play a critical role in setting up and servicing. However, now there is the emergence of a new form of cloud environment known as the “Personal Cloud.”

The personal cloud is a user’s “collection of digital content, services and apps which are seamlessly accessible across any device,” according to Gartner’s definition. “The personal cloud is not a tangible entity, but rather the realization of four different types of experience in which users store, synchronize, stream and share content on a contextual basis, moving from one platform, screen and location to another. Founded on interconnected services and applications, it both reflects and sets consumers’ expectations for how next-generation computing services will work,” according to the research firm.

This is growing in importance and shaping how IT supports their employees as more personal computing intersects with business computing. In fact, the idea of the personal cloud is growing so quickly in the next three years, 50 percent of organizations will support assets and services outside of the IT services portfolio, Gartner said.

"The personal cloud is the collection of content, services and tools that users assemble to fulfill their personal digital lifestyle needs across any device. Each user's personal cloud is unique and evolving, as the user's daily needs change and as vendors and products come and go," said Stephen Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "Looking forward, we see continued upheaval and challenges from the blending of personal and corporate digital tools and information within each user's life."

What is shaping the evolution of the personal cloud going forward? There are two key trends that solutions need to be acutely aware.

They are the increasing access to personal information from every computing device and the increase in intelligence resulting from the user’s information that is then applied to their experience. The lines are completely blurring between work and personal lives and users want access to information from wherever they are located and from whichever device they are using. And they want that information to be relevant to be intuitive and tailored to their specific needs.

"The rate of change is accelerating as new technologies like Windows 10, ubiquitous sensors, wearables and smart machines alter the landscape and further blur the lines between consumer and enterprise computing," said Kleynhans. "By 2018, 25 percent of large organizations will have an explicit strategy to make their corporate computing environment similar to a consumer computing experience."

Moving forward, solution providers must understand these user and workforce dynamics and support IT as the evolution of the personal cloud continues.