The Difference Between a Personal Cloud and a Personal Data Vault

In August I did a short post sharing an insight about what cleanly distinguishes a personal cloud from what the VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) community has long called a personal data store or PDS. A few years ago it appeared the popular name for a PDS might end out being a personal data locker. However recent press coverage, including a New York Times article this weekend, has used a different term: personal data vault.

So I’m updating the diagram I posted in August just to make sure it’s still clear: a personal cloud is to a personal data vault what a personal computer is to a file system.


In other words, while logical aggregation and secure sharing of your personal data is important — just as file management is important to a personal computer operating system — it is vastly more useful if you can run trusted applications to create, manage, and use that data. That’s what a personal cloud does. It’s an operating system for a virtual computer in the cloud, and the apps it runs communicate cloud-to-cloud to do tasks that are not feasible with either personal computers or smart phones — most importantly, to manage communications via personal channels (a whole ‘nother topic — read the paper for the full scoop).

To repeat one other key point from the earlier post, the other concern I have about either the term “personal data vault” or “personal data store” is that it gives the perception that all the personal data you may aggregate and store lives in one location. That’s neither practical nor desirable. What you really want is a single point of control — a secure dashboard — for your personal data no matter where it may be stored, either on your local devices or on the Web (your bank, your doctor, your insurance company, your car dealer, your school). Yes, in some cases you will want your personal cloud to store a backup of data that lives elsewhere, but that doesn’t need to apply to all data you touch.


About Drummond Reed

Internet entrepreneur in identity, personal data, and governance frameworks
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