With all of the hulabaloo around Cloud Computing, you'd think the LAST thing we need is yet another kind of cloud, in addition to Public Clouds and Private Clouds (secured within a company's domain). Forrester's Mike Gualtieri, an application development analyst we have enjoyed talking to in the past, agrees in his blog "Cloudmania: Developers Need A Personal Cloud" that we don't need a new cloud for everything in principle, while proposing another cloud anyway.
"What developers could use is a Personal Cloud that would allow them to configure their local environment in multiple way and take it with them wherever they go. I know this sounds like virtualization and it is to some extent, but extend PC virtualization with cloud concepts and you get the Personal Cloud."
What is a "personal cloud" anyway? Is it the "Most Private Cloud?" In essence it is a way for developers to completely isolate themselves from dependencies, by having all of the services and resources they need to work and test in their own "personal cloud" environment right on their own computer. No connection to the Internet or a hosted service needed.
At this point you may ask yourself if this can even be called a Cloud, and if it is even relevant to the real world, much less plausible. Indeed, many of the comments on Mike's blog are challenging the feasibility of a "Personal Cloud" altogether. If you are talking about working with enterprise applications, you can't possibly replicate monolithic mainframes, systems of record, and simulate complex transaction and service environments right on the developer's laptop. Right?
In reality this kind of thing is happening today with the practice of Service Virtualization (you can read a paper on the concept here), when coupled with a localized Virtual Environment (or virtual "appliance") that allows a very genuine simulation of the developers' dependencies to run locally. Even if the moniker "Personal Cloud" doesn't stick, we think he is onto something.
Mike mentions Moore's law: exponentially increased processing power and capacity on the developer's desktop at lower prices. That makes what seemed to be an impossibility 5-10 years ago, a very real proposition today. As developers have more local computing power at the ready, they will be increasingly able to model sophisticated test and development environments within a VM, provided they are detailed, robust, and can perform close enough to reality to be relevant.
Anyway a good original blog and this idea is worth watching as it develops. While there are compelling reasons why Public and Private Cloud deployment are here to stay, don't be surprised when developers ask for the ability to truly work "off the grid" sometimes to move their lifecycles into parallel and eliminate the costs and constraints of access to the environment.