Canada climbs into the cloud

Catching up fast

Compared to other industrialized countries, Canada has approached cloud computing slowly and with great caution. But as major players construct data centres here, Canadians are catching up fast. In case a definition is useful, IBM (and they ought to know) defines the cloud as “the delivery of on-demand computing resources – everything from applications to data centres – over the Internet on a pay-for-use basis.” This can take the form of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS.)  

A cautious start

Even as late as two years ago, Canada was well behind the UK, the Scandinavian countries, Australia, and the United States in embracing cloud technology. This 2013 article in the Financial Postreported “the Canadian cloud adoption rate trails by 10% compared to our trendsetting southern neighbor.” At that point in time, the article noted, cloud technology did “not even account for 5% of IT spending” in Canada. The Post article pointed out that “While the American federal government has had a well-defined cloud computing roadmap for several years, Ottawa is still developing a Canadian strategy.”The Post article cited data governance, security, and privacy, in addition to lagging demand, as factors in Canada’s slow start with cloud computing.  

State of the art

But things are changing fast in the Canadian cloud. A year after that article published, Concur’s parent company, SAP, announced it was opening a state-of-the-art data centre in Markham, Ontario, near Toronto. By this past June, it was fully operational. In an earlier SAP blog post, Bob Elliott, managing director, SAP Canada explained why this is important: “We’re seeing more and more Canadian companies moving their business into the cloud as they continue to adopt innovative technology as part of their growth strategy. Our customers range from government agencies to healthcare and financial services companies and almost all of them have strict data security requirements and need this information to reside in Canada.”  

Enter Microsoft

Almost simultaneously, Microsoft announced plans to open two cloud data centres in Canada in 2016.One will be in Toronto, the other in Quebec City. Current Microsoft cloud customers here say they see new business potential in the opening. “As proud Canadians and creators of the world’s first 100% cloud-based digital asset management system, we’re eagerly awaiting the new Canadian data centres coming online next year,” a Microsoft press release quotes David MacLaren, President & CEO of MediaValet . “Since launching the first version of MediaValet in late 2010, we’ve had opportunities to work with healthcare, government and higher education organizations in Canada, but been hampered by their rigorous data compliance needs. Microsoft’s investment in a Canadian cloud will open up doors to significant sectors of the Canadian market.”  

Even more growth

Microsoft’s June press release says “According to IDC, (International Data Corporation) total public cloud spend in Canada is projected to grow to $2.5B by next year. The fastest growth will be from Public cloud infrastructure with a strong 45 per cent increase by 2016”.  It may have started slowly, but the Canadian cloud is getting there fast.

 

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