Salesforce.com chief scientist on how and why the cloud is here to stay

JR Rangaswami Structure Europe 2012 Salesforce

“The best way I can respond to that question [about whether cloud computing is for real] is, ‘Do my children know any different?'” said Salesforce.com Chief Scientist JP Rangaswami during a morning session at our Structure: Europe conference on Wednesday. The answer, by the way, is that they don’t: “My children appear to have no interest in hugging physical things in order to make them feel good.”

Viewing the adoption of cloud services outside his family though, Rangaswami noted the similar situation in the at large. We as a society rely so heavily on services delivered via the internet, often without thinking about it, that “we recognize the cloud today more by its absence.”

This is important stuff, even beyond what it means for the way companies do business. Health care, government inefficiency, climate change, water shortage — to solve these, we’re going to need open data, collaboration and everything the cloud enables. They are “a new paradigm of problems that are going to need a new paradigm of tools,” Rangaswami said. “The corporate equivalent is just a subset of what we face in life in general.”

That being said, Rangaswami noted that what happens within corporations does matter because they’re still engines of innovation and they hold a lot of valuable data. At the very least, companies such as Salesforce.com can try to encourage a change in corporate behavior that might bring about the real promise of technology movements such as big data. “Part of the ‘big’ is in the shareability — what gets shared,” he said, and it will be interesting to see how much companies are willing to share.

Check out the rest of our Structure Europe 2012 live coverage here, and a video recording of the session follows below.

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