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Hands up all those who remember the turn of the century?
It's amazing how fast time flies when you're having fun because that was over 20 years ago now. Those two decades seem to have passed in almost the blink of an eye.
Well if you were around back in late 1999 and the early 2000s, you'll remember catchy bits of terminology like "the knowledge wave" and "knowledge-based economy" (KBE).
The government of the day (I forget which way it leaned) promised us that New Zealand would "ride the knowledge wave" and that by creating a powerful "knowledge-based economy" we would overcome the tyrany of distance that worked against us in so many of the export markets we serviced.
Computers, the internet, software and the mass of bright minds that was NZ's IT sector would come together to put us out there at the front of the world, boxing well above our weight from this tiny island paradise.
I guess that "government of the day" was pretty good on talking the talk but when it came to walking the walk, well they were not quite up to the task.
I guess their internet skills were simply not up to the task either. It's looking a lot like they selected the slowest shipping option on the list when they placed their online order for our KBE, back in 2000.
However, despite the obviously circuitous route and delays involved, yesterday we got some very good news:
The knowledge-based economy we ordered all those years ago -- has finally arrived!
Amazon announced that it will be pouring billions of dollars into NZ in order to create an instance of its AWS cloud service here.
Yes, finally, after all that waiting, we are on the map and IT will be (allegedly) making a pretty significant contribution to the nation's economy.
We are now truly to become "the land of the long white (AWS) cloud"!
It is interesting to ponder the reasons why Amazon would go to all the expense of setting up such an expensive operation here in Godzone because surely our own demand for AWS is not enough to justify the significant amount of money involved.
Is it that we have some kind of strategic position, thanks to the growing levels of connectivity we have with the rest of the world?
We have cables to Australia and the USA so perhaps our big drawcard is that we might provide a measure of redundancy if Australia's own cables get cut.
Right now, Australia has a link to the USA through the Hawaiki cable and that cable also serves New Zealand. However, if that were to fail at any time, NZ's Southern Cross cable could pick up the load and relay traffic between Oz and the USA via the Tasman Global Access cable.
Given the entirety of NZ's data needs are likely to be little more than those of greater Sydney, I think it's a safe bet that we're more of a backup for our cobbers across the ditch than a key market ourselves.
Whatever the reasons and justifications for this big spend it's got to be good news for all concerned.
Perhaps the most interesting thing I'll be watching is exactly how Amazon's tax obligations are structured here in New Zealand.
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