If survey results from the Pew Internet and American Life Project accurately reflect the U.S.' attitude toward the Internet, Nelson's cloud computing prediction could prove true.
In 2000, when the organization conducted its first survey and asked people if they used the cloud for computing, less than 10 percent of respondents replied yes. When asked the same question this May, that figure reached 66 percent, said Lee Rainie, the project's director, who also spoke on the panel.
Further emphasising the role of cloud computing's future, the survey also revealed an increased use of mobile devices connecting to data stored at offsite servers.
However, cloud computing faces development and regulation challenges, Nelson cautioned.
"There are lots of forces that could push us away from the cloud of clouds," he said.
He advocated that companies develop cloud computing services that allow users to transfer data between systems and do not lock businesses into one provider. The possibility remains that cloud computing providers will use proprietary technology that forces users into their systems or that creates clouds that are only partially open.
"I think there is a chance that if we push hard ... we can get to this universal cloud," he said.
Cloud computing must also contend with other challenges, he said. Other threats include government privacy regulations, entertainment companies that look to clamp down on piracy, and nations that fear domination from U.S. companies in the cloud computing space and develop their own systems.