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BPF Book Review | “The Cloud Revolution” by Mark Mills

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Updated 1.29.24 “The Cloud Revolution Comes To Mississippi”

Fat Tuesday came early this year to Madison County with plenty of hollering, shouting and King Cake from the State Capitol to the Courthouse Square in Canton. Amazon Web Services (AWS) along State elected officials announced not one but two hyper-scale data centers with a total investment of $10 billion. This lightning bolt announcement is the signal that the “Cloud” Revolution is coming full force to Mississippi. So what exactly is the “Cloud” that makes an economic powerhouse like AWS want to come to Madison County and drop $10 billion?

December 17, 2021

One of the most important economic books of 2021 is The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and A Roaring 2020s by Mark Mills.  This is a great book for anyone trying to understand how the stock market can rocket thousands of points to all-time highs while the world is suffering and struggling through a global pandemic.  The author, Mark Mills, is no naive optimist promoting pollyannaish platitudes.  Far from it, Mills is a physicist by training and a serious intellect with a deep understanding of the hard sciences.

Mills’ resume includes stints as a science advisor in the Reagan White House, a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.  In addition, Mark Mills is an expert on energy and coauthored The Bottomless Well with Peter Huber in 2005 when fears of “peak oil” were all the rage.  The book made the case against those fears that human ingenuity supported by science and technology would prevail in meeting the world’s voracious appetite for energy and power.  Six years later, Huber and Mills’ thesis was vindicated as fracking disrupted the natural gas markets first and then three years later the global oil industry.  In short, Mark Mills is a writer worth reading especially when it comes to the future.

So what is the cloud?  It is a quantum leap from the internet just as the internet was a quantum leap from telephony.  The cloud is all about “big data” and the building blocks are datacenters – hyper-scale datacenters (currently 500 worldwide), enterprise-class datacenters (over 5,000 worldwide) and smaller datacenters (8 million and counting).  Tying all those datacenters together with speed of light communications creates the largest Information infrastructure ever built.  Further connecting the cloud via wires and 5G wireless with millions of businesses, billions of people and tens of billions of devices will create vast new gains in productivity and unimagined opportunities.

The year 2020 marked the point that more than half of all data was stored on the cloud rather than on devices at home or at an office.  $20 billion a year is now being spent to expand current datacenters and build more on the edge.  The result is “the first civilization scale infrastructure.”  Mills concludes that the cloud will be to the 21st century

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