Using GPUs to crack passwords isn't going about it the same way that you are thinking. There are no network connections to a server as the GPUs wouldn't be any faster at that than a normal CPU. What they are doing is getting a copy of the encrypted passwords in some way. Either from a workstation with cached passwords or gaining some amount of access to system to get a hold of the encrypted passwords. Then they run the cracking software against that local file using the GPUs to do the heavy lifting.
Back in the mid 90's I remember we ran a quick little utility on the windows nt box connected to the domain and it gave us a file that could then be passed to a cracking program. After the initial dump it didn't need network access and just sat there churning away spitting out passwords as they were found. It took progressively longer the more characters there were in the password.
Fast forward 10 years and the methods used to encrypt the passwords has gotten much better to the point that even a multi core CPU just couldn't make enough headway in a short amount of time without using something like a super computer or HPC cluster. Then move forward to GPU computing where you can throw thousands of little cores that are really good at checking passwords into a single computer and you move from needing racks of servers to a decent desktop with a few GPU cards to do the same work.
So why is this relevant if you have to get into the system first to get the file. Well the answer to that is you only have to find one weak link in an organization to get a hold of the encrypted passwords for the entire system. So if you can convince one normal user to run malware that harvests that file and sends it off site you can work on cracking it at your leisure.
We recently threw our password file at a single Nvidia Tesla M2050 card and we were able to get all the passwords with 8 characters in just a few hours even with complexity requirements. We were able to do pretty much anything under 13 in a few days. It prompted us to change the encryption on passwords stored in ldap as a result of it.