What do Fighter Pilots, Communists, and British Coal have to do with Clouds?

cc13sc_125x125_ImSpeakingAtWhen you ask people, “What is are the biggest benefits of cloud computing?” you’re likely to get a couple top answers: reduced IT costs and increased business agility. But when you probe people beyond that, asking them, “How does cloud computing help with those things?” the conversation quickly turns mushy.

On Tuesday, April 2, at Cloud Connect Santa Clara, I’m going to be presenting a session that will help clarify your thinking about these topics. Titled Dogfighting, Communism, and Coal: Understanding Business Agility and IT Spending, the session will be a 1-hour romp through the eclectic works of great thinkers, examining their take on the world and applying them to cloud computing. In particular, we’ll spend some time with:

  • John Boyd — Boyd was an instructor at the USAF Fighter Weapons school. He had some of the best natural instincts of any fighter pilot anywhere, and found that he was extremely effective in the air. He spent the rest of his life trying to understand the general principles that underpinned that effectiveness, and in the process he developed revolutionary frameworks to reason about adversarial contests, whether war or business competition. I have covered some of Boyd’s thinking about business agility before at Leverhawk.
  • Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek — Mises and Hayek were economists from the Austrian school of economics. Hayek, Mises’s student, is probably most famous for his book, The Road to Serfdom (a must-read when you get the chance). Both worked on something called the “Economic Calculation Problem.” In brief, the Economic Calculation Problem is one of the fundamental reasons that socialism (and communism) fail — economies are too complex to plan centrally. I’ll be writing more about Mises and Hayek in future Leverhawk articles.
  • William Stanley Jevons — Jevons was an economist working in Britain in the mid-1800s. He noticed an odd relationship between the efficiency of coal burning machines and the aggregate coal usage across the British Empire. As individual machines got more efficient, aggregate coal usage increased. This phenomenon has been named the Jevons Paradox. I wrote an article about the Jevons Paradox a while ago at GigaOm.

So, how does all this related to cloud computing? I’ve given you some of the pointers already. You’ll have to come to Cloud Connect to find it all tied up with a bow.

And, if you would like to connect at Cloud Connect (and why wouldn’t you?), please introduce yourself after my session or shoot an email to dave@leverhawk.com and we can set something up at a different time around the conference.


  1. Very interesting indeed! Sounds like Freakonomics meets Cloud Computing.

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