Power of the Cloud

Data is the most disruptive force in business and society today. In my conversation with Fortune’s Stacey Higginbotham at Structure 2015 today, I will assert that our industry’s overall view of the power of the cloud is too incremental, and that we ought to have much bigger aspirations.

Everyone knows that data, powered by the cloud, is fundamentally changing the way businesses compete. What’s less widely discussed is that data holds the power to tackle the greatest societal challenges of our time— from healthcare to hunger to climate change and beyond. The cloud is the delivery mechanism that will make transformative change possible, and Intel is laying the groundwork to shape the future in this regard.

Today’s view of the cloud is overly constraining. We think of it incrementally—one step beyond virtualization—as a way of optimizing a business and banking some  efficiencies. It is too often viewed in binary terms, as either public or private or only in the context of massive “hyperscale” capacity, a benefit within the reach of only the biggest cloud service providers. But imagine if, instead, we saw the cloud as something more. What if the cloud was something accessible to every business and institution, every entrepreneur and inventor?

A perfect example of the power of the cloud was demonstrated at Oregon Health and Sciences University this past summer where Intel launched the Collaborative Cancer Cloud initiative—an endeavor that we hope will enable a cure for cancer.  Exciting stuff, but merely the beginning, as we put the power of information to work in many other ways, such as analyzing crop yields, curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and tackling the vast field of precision medicine.

Contrary to current thought, these pioneering and transformational endeavors enabled by the disruptive force of cloud computing can be accessible to all. Our whole effort this year – under the moniker “Cloud for All” – was to truly create clouds that can be deployed and accessed by businesses of all size, by entrepreneurs in the most remote parts of world, by researchers and scientists from institutions large and small. At Intel we believe that the ideas and inventions unleashed by the cloud can fundamentally alter the course of human history.

Thinking of the cloud as a tsunami-sized force of change, not just compute, storage and network efficiency, is truly one of the most exciting conversations in technology today.