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Gartner: 1/3 of consumer data will be stored in the cloud by '16

Consumer adoption of cloud services will continue to increase in the coming years, with one-third of personal data being stored in the cloud by 2016, Gartner predicts.

Today, only about 7% of personal data is stored in the cloud. But, Gartner researchers say the ability for consumers to capture data on their smartphones and tablets, using cameras and video recording devices, will drive the need to store data outside of local traditional options, such as on a personal computer hard drive or an external hard drive. Plus, the advent of technology allowing data to be automatically uploaded to the cloud, will mean that 36% of consumer data will be stored in the cloud within four years.

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Gartner says there is 329 exabytes of personal data today, which will balloon to 4.1 zettabytes of data by 2016. A zettabyte is more than 1 trillion gigabytes. In the short term, Gartner predicts that consumer cloud storage needs will be satisfied through free social media websites, such as Facebook, where many people store their photos to allow for sharing with friends. As the amount of data consumers are looking to store in the cloud increases though there will be increased demand for additional space and opportunities, Gartner predicts, for vendors to offer integrated storage services.

"Cloud storage will grow with the emergence of the personal cloud, which in turn will simplify the direct-to-cloud model, allowing users to directly store user-generated content in the cloud," says Gartner principal research analyst Shalini Verma. "As storage becomes a part of the personal cloud, it will become further commoditized. Therefore, online storage and sync companies need to have a strategic rethink about their future approach."

Network World staff writer Brandon Butler covers cloud computing and social collaboration. He can be reached at [email protected] and found on Twitter at @BButlerNWW.

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