The most recent survey by Gartner points out that consumers will gradually start moving towards cloud storage and by 2016, more than one third of consumer data will be stored in cloud. The research firm also suggests that the reason for this shift will be multiple devices owned by users. In 2011, 7 percent of consumer content was stored in the cloud and it is now expected to grow to 36 percent in 2016. The camera-equipped smartphones and tablets have increased the digital data consumption further. Gartner predicts that the digital storage needs across the world will grow from 329 exabytes in 2011 to 4.1 zettabytes in 2016. This growth will be inclusive of digital content stored in PCs, smartphones, tablets, hard-disk drives (HDDs), network attached storage (NAS) and cloud repositories.
It's all up in the clouds...
"Historically, consumers have generally stored content on their PCs, but as we enter the post-PC era, consumers are using multiple connected devices, the majority of which are equipped with cameras. This is leading to a massive increase in new user-generated content that requires storage," said Shalini Verma, principal research analyst at Gartner. "With the emergence of the personal cloud, this fast-growing consumer digital content will quickly get disaggregated from connected devices."
This bulk of cloud storage needs will also met by social sites, which will offer free storage options. Ms. Verma also points out that while online back-up services are the most well-known cloud storage providers, their total storage allocated to consumers is small, relative to that maintained by social media sites. The average storage per household will grow from 464 gigabytes in 2011 to 3.3 terabytes in 2016. Gartner believes that this year the adoption of camera-equipped tablets and smartphones will drive consumer storage needs. Then, in the first half of 2012, there was a shortage in supply of HDDs due to the floods in Thailand, which will provide an impetus for cloud storage adoption. This will lead to an unusual overall growth rate between 2011 and 2012. These cloud services are expected to be first offered for free. They will be offered in the form of apps on mobile devices, and also as online storage and sync companies.
“Local storage will become further integrated with home networking, presenting opportunities for local storage providers to partner with home networking and automation service providers,” said Ms. Verma. “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. 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.”
Cloud service providers (CSPs) will also increasingly offer cloud storage and the use of cloud online storage and sync services will provide the foundational experience for consumers to start using cloud storage as part of the personal cloud. Gartner also predicts that the direct-to-cloud model will become more mainstream. Majority of the growth in cloud services is expected to come from North America and Western Europe. Japan and South Korea in the Asia pacific region will also see a huge growth.