Everything isn’t infrastructure, but cloud computing is

By James Pethokoukis

Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers assigns a grade — always pretty terrible — to the state of American infrastructure, an overall mark as well as individual ones for things like roads, bridges, airports, and water. Internet, too. It recommends trillions in upgrades. This, from the 2021 report:

Broadband, a generic term for high-speed internet access, enables students of all ages to learn online and businesses to reach customers and co-workers; facilitates electronic and verbal communications; provides access to healthcare and job openings; and can be the deciding factor of where a company chooses to expand. When the coronavirus pandemic forced millions of Americans to stay home in 2020 and 2021, an estimated one in five school-aged children lacked the high-speed internet connection needed to access lessons and other materials.

No grade in 2021, however, because the ASCE “determined there was insufficient information on broadband infrastructure to justify a category grade.” Indeed, this seems to be a new category. And if the ASCE is open to adding more categories, let me highlight one that might really improve America’s overall infrastructure grade: cloud computing. In the book “The Cloud Revolution,” Mark Mills, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a faculty fellow at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, calls the cloud “civilizational-scale infrastructure.” More: “With the Cloud, the center of silicon horsepower is no longer in an office, laboratory or factory, or pocket, but has instead shifted into a remote utility-like sprawling silicon system that will be the biggest infrastructure humanity has ever built.”

This graphic from Cloudwards gives a sense of the scale we’re talking about:

And it doesn’t even mention the 8,000 global data centers, including nearly 3,000 in the United States:

And who are the most important cloud providers. A bunch of American companies you may be familiar with:

I recently did a podcast chat with Mills if you would like to know more about the economic impact of cloud computing.

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Source: aei.org

Everything isn’t infrastructure, but cloud computing is