I’m excited to be returning to the ideas of the Personal Cloud report that I published last July. In that report, I described how computing by individuals will shift from being device-centric, as it is today, to be being information-centric across devices and online services. Think of Personal Cloud as the following idea:

Federated sets of Internet-based digital services for individuals that act as a permanent and flexible resource to:
1) organize and preserve personal information, documents, media, and communications;
2) deliver that information on demand to any device or service; and
3) orchestrate integration of personal information across all digital devices and services.

Personal cloud service providers will build a combination of a data center cloud software platform, browser-based code to enable rich Web experiences, and device-level player or presentation code for richer experiences than the browser can provide, including offline access. And they will create an ecosystem of complementary software and service providers on top of their own offerings.

Tomorrow, Thursday, May 27th, I’ll be hosting a panel on Personal Cloud at the Forrester IT Forum with three executives at companies that are building elements of the personal cloud ecosystem:

Adam Gross, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Sales, Dropbox 
T.A. McCann
, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Gist 
Laura Yecies
, Chief Executive Officer, SugarSync

Here are some of the questions I’d like to discuss with the panel, and I’d welcome any suggestions for questions:

Forget the Forrester definition of personal cloud for a moment . . . really.

  1. How do you think personal/individual computing is evolving, and what would you call the next phase?
  2. What are the key enabling technologies, information elements, and ideas?
    1. What are the drivers and enablers?
    2. What are the key information or content elements?
    3. Are the customer needs latent or overt?
  3. Who are the customers, and what are the offerings?
    1. Many players have focused first on consumers but are shifting to SMBs. Why? Will the enterprise become a factor and when?
    2. Who are the most interesting players to watch so far?
    3. How does it vary across developed and developing economies?
  4. What are the business models of personal cloud?
  5. Who are the investors and acquirers?
  6. Who are the players with a head start, anchor companies and specialists?
    1. What role do the anchor players perform, and how should they build out?
    2. What role do the specialists perform, and how should they build out?
    3. What other industries and players are affected and how? ISVs, carriers, OS makers, device makers, service providers? What about outside the technology industry?
  7. What are the technical and business barriers to developing the personal cloud, for service providers and for the market overall?
  8. How will personal cloud technologies and services evolve?

We won’t have time to get to all the questions, but we will have fun trying.

Which ones should we focus on?

What else should I ask?

I want to start by asking each panelist how much customer data they have under management and how fast it is growing. And what’s the right metric for measuring that – is it raw petabytes, number of objects, users?

Online backup services Carbonite and Mozy have made public comments about having 15 to 20 petabytes under management . . . wow!