The personal cloud will begin a new era that will provide users with a new level of flexibility with the devices they use for professional and private activities, while leveraging the strengths of each device, ultimately enabling new levels of user satisfaction and productivity.

According to Gartner, the reign of the personal computer as the sole corporate application access device is coming to a close, and by 2014, the personal cloud will be at the centre of users’ digital lives. So how is the enterprise environment evolving, and what is driving those changes?

Is there an App for that?

The BYOD trend has become a clear indicator of something broader happening in the market. It indicates the advent of the personal cloud era where smart mobile devices and their associated apps are becoming more and more prevalent in the enterprise communications space. People bring their tablets to work because they love using them and feel they have more freedom and control over their own productivity and efficiency.

So it’s no secret that tablets are changing how people communicate, and the first reaction people have when they have a task is often to ask “is there an app for that?” It’s these applications which are driving the shift towards BYOD and the personal cloud, combined with a new kind of culture. Think about your own personal cloud on your device of choice – it may include iTunes music storage, DropBox file sharing, WebEx conferencing…the list goes on!

CIOs everywhere are now dealing not only with the BYOD trend, but “bring your own cloud” services as well. Embracing the BYOD trend and supporting the personal cloud is helping enterprises empower a highly mobile workforce, with increased user flexibility and simplicity.

Three strategies to support the personal cloud

In today’s BYOD and personal cloud era, communications services, apps and network infrastructure should be centered on people and their needs, rather than specific devices. With this approach, employees no longer need to adapt their work style to match what is provided. Instead, they enjoy the same flexibility and choices they have come to value in their personal lives.

  1.  Rethink services

It’s not enough to deliver specific communications services and apps for specific devices. Every app should be available for every device. Tablets won’t replace traditional office devices; they will complement them. As people switch between devices, locations and tasks, they need flexibility and control over the services and apps they use to continue working seamlessly and efficiently.

And security is important too – the personal cloud will face the same challenges as in the BYOD trend, with employees reluctant to stop using their personal devices for work just because the IT department doesn’t want to support them. They will continue to use them without providing visibility to IT departments, so if the device is stolen or lost, corporate data could end up in the public domain or lost forever.

  1.  Evolve networks

Supporting the personal cloud also requires an intelligent network. That means enterprises should look to implement an application fluent network (AFN), which can recognise different traffic types from different users and devices, and then accordingly prioritise traffic based on application, as well as monitor traffic to ensure priorities are maintained.

Furthermore, the network infrastructure must also be able to deliver the bandwidth needed to accommodate higher levels of video and multimedia traffic. Virtualisation is a great way to make this possible, providing a way to move the legacy of applications and processes developed in the PC era forward into the new world of the personal cloud.

  1.  And adopt the cloud

To support mobility and self-service consumption models, enterprises need a cloud-ready architecture. A cloud-based approach allows access to applications, services and other resources anytime, anywhere — with bandwidth and QoS which matches business objectives.

The advent of the cloud means that every user can now have a scalable and nearly infinite set of resources available for whatever they need to do. Users can make their own choices about applications, services and content, selecting from a nearly limitless collection on the Internet, thus encouraging a culture of self-service which users now expect in all aspects of their digital lives.

Embrace the personal cloud

With the ever increasing desire for employees to bring personal devices to work, the BYOD trend has brought about a significant shift in the way enterprises need to enable improved mobility and access to enterprise applications for all employees.

But there are important steps which need to be taken before the move to the personal cloud, including addressing potential security issues, evolving networks to be able to support this trend, and adopting a cloud-ready architecture.

With the right approach to communications services, applications and network infrastructure, enterprises can strengthen and build on the initiative their employees have already taken to extend and augment their work capabilities, providing greater flexibility and mobility across the enterprise.