Why Cloud Computing Is About More Than Just Data Centers

by Brian Caulfield

Turns out that cloud computing is about a lot more than faraway server rooms.

Our CIO, Bob Worrall, was among a trio of panelists who spoke Monday at CES about how cloud computing is reshaping everyday devices.

“[The cloud] gives consumers more choice, especially in the Android gaming space, where consumers aren’t boxed into content from any one provider,” Worrall told a crowd gathered to learn how cloud computing is reshaping computer hardware.

The panel’s moderator, Michael Hickens, editor-in-chief of CIO Journal, noted that businesses will spend more than $100 billion on cloud-based services in 2016, up from $40 billion in 2013.

That spending is unlocking new business models that have already begun to reshape the electronics consumers use every day, as broadband connections to powerful banks of servers have made thinner, lighter devices possible.

Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen, Tom Paquin, and Bob Worrall.
Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen, from DropBox (left); OnLive CTO Tom Paquin (center); and NVIDIA CIO Bob Worrall (right). 

Worrall was joined on the panel by Lars Fjeldsoe-Nielsen, head of mobile business development at cloud-storage company DropBox, and Tom Paquin, CTO at online gaming provider OnLive.

“This is by far the most exciting time in my career,” Fjeldsoe-Nielsen said. “The impact that services have had over the past few years on the design of hardware has been absolutely incredible.”

The panelists spoke the day after NVIDIA introduced a new open-platform gaming device, codenamed Project SHIELD, and the NVIDIA GRID Cloud Gaming Platform, a powerful blend of hardware and specialized software that promises to do for games what Netflix did for video.

Such platforms will accelerate the trend towards cloud computing by letting companies focus on building new services, rather than the infrastructure needed to provide them, Paquin said.

“The ability to put more and more things in the cloud means that developers are going to be able to develop applications and systems and abilities that we have no concept of today,” he said. “This is good for consumers and opens up much more choice.”

Tom Paquin of OnLive.
The cloud opens up more choices for consumers, said OnLive CTO Tom Paquin (center).

All agreed that cloud computing creates new privacy and security challenges. But businesses like NVIDIA are finding new ways to utilize new kinds of connected devices. We’re working with industry leaders in hopes that as security solutions improve, we’ll be able to adopt some of the cloud-based services consumers now enjoy, Worrall said.

“If I lose my wife’s vacation photos, sorry dear; if I lose a chip design, that’s a different conversation,” he said.

While cloud computing has attracted wide attention over the past year, Worrall has been thinking about cloud computing for more than a decade.

Before NVIDIA, he worked for 20-plus years at Sun Microsystems – a company whose motto was once ‘the network is the computer’ – where he served as CIO.