Canadian Cloud Computing – Platform for an Innovation Nation

An introduction to our Canadian Cloud Computing best practices guide, covering solution design and Canadian data privacy requirements.

As it is across the world, more and more CIOs in Canada are turning to the Cloud as their primary model for IT delivery.

For the purposes of our webinar series and best practices guide, we define Canadian Cloud Computing to be the sum total of all the expertise and services Canadian CIOs need to implement Cloud solutions, meaning locally provided consulting services to access Cloud options delivered from outside of Canada, as well as within it.

In our guide we’ll document the decision process you can follow to determine the best solution, through featuring inputs from local experts, showcasing Cloud Solution Blueprints, recipes for common IT requirements.

Canadian Cloud Data Privacy

However within this overall scope by far the most defining characteristic of Canadian Cloud is the data residency aspect. For many organizations especially those in regulated industries the blanket need to have data protected by local Canadian laws will be an overriding requirement, and so this will be a central feature of the guide.

Many software vendors seeking to personalize their products for the Canadian market have therefore deployed locally hosted offerings, such as Hubshare.

This highlights how the global Cloud providers AWS, Microsoft and Google have set up local Canadian data centres so that they can comply with the core requirement of Canadian data residency. Here is a video of IT World Canada interviewing AWS CTO Werner Vogels to discuss their launch in 2016.

AWS launched a Canadian zone in 2016, signing a framework agreement with the government in 2019, with the details of their Protected B services described here. By December 2019 AWS were reporting a rapidly expanding footprint across the country, with key Canadian sectors like Oil & Gas adopting their services, as well as Government.

Major partners include VMware – Sean Forkan, Country Manager for VMware Canada discusses with Eric Gales, AWS Canada Director, how VMware Cloud on AWS is helping Canadian organizations to transform for future success.

Microsoft describes how their investment into Canadian Cloud will fuel innovation in Canada, announcing that it is undertaking the largest expansion of its Canadian-based cloud computing infrastructure since the launch of two Canadian cloud datacentre regions in 2016. As part of the announcement, Microsoft will be adding Azure Availability Zones in the Azure Canada Central region, increasing compute capacity by more than 1300% since the region was first brought online in 2016.

Keynote clients include the University Health Network, and the Canadian Government is also engaging with Microsoft for Cloud, also being certified for Protected B data hosting and signing a contract to adopt their Office 365 service. They have also made available a series of blueprints to help manage and monitor compliance obligations.

In March 2020 Google announced a new Toronto region, signing a 10 year deal with Telus and being awarded status on the Canadian Government cloud framework.

Cloud Solution Design

To the point of our guide it’s not always the case that an AWS or Azure will be the best fit for your requirements.

There are many factors to consider even the basics of the vendor relationship you can hope for when working with a large global business versus a small, locally owned company, and for some workloads a more traditional managed or co-located service may be what you need. The Canadian Government has defined a ‘Right Cloud’ decision framework to guide this selection process.

Furthermore the science of ‘Canadian Data Privacy’ has also evolved over the recent years to become a much more nuanced and sophisticated discussion, than simply a function of being hosted in Canada.

FuseForward provide this introductory overview of the topic and McMillan LLP this detailed walk through of the legal landscape. Cloud providers have made clear efforts to position their services as compliant with these requirements, such as AWS tailoring theirs even down to a level of Nova Scotian Healthcare data.

CBC reported on how this is an evolving landscape, with an increasingly accepted concept being recognized into Canada’s new digital charter that users themselves should have control over their personal information, highlighting relevant innovations such as the ‘Canadian Shield‘ from CIRA.

Being able to protect systems to enforce and safeguard these policies is a function of suitably capable Cybersecurity, and so hand in hand with Privacy legislation and practices we’ll review associated best practices in this field, within a context of Building Canada’s Cybersecurity Policy.

Accelerating Canadian Innovation

Most importantly is the role the Cloud will play in accelerating innovation in Canada. Kevin Carmichael writes for the Financial Post on the core ideal central to our initiative:

“Oil remains a pillar of Canada’s economy, but it’s the digital economy that’s driving growth.”

He reports on the challenges the nation faces transitioning from its historical resources economy to the new digital economy, citing examples such as Statistics Canada only collating retail spending from those businesses with a physical store, not the massive online trade with suppliers like Amazon.

This is a pertinent example, as Statistics Canada are one of the agencies migrating to the Cloud, specifically for the purposes of modernizing how they work to embrace this transition.

They’re adopting a Hybrid Cloud strategy, and ‘believe working with private sector cloud specialists will bring numerous benefits, such as affordable access to new technologies, additional processing power, additional storage and more timely provision of data to researchers and the public’.

As the first example of Statistics Canada highlights, the Canadian public sector is being empowered with a platform for accelerated digital innovation – Harnessing the Cloud will enable them to more rapidly develop and deploy new digital services that serve Canadians in new, faster and more efficient ways.

Importantly there are of course also local Canadian firms who offer data centre, Cloud hosting and application services. As adoption grows it will form a ‘rising tide’ effect that benefits all suppliers, greatly accelerating Canada’s digital economy as they increase and improve the innovation-enabling services they offer.

It will even act as an accelerant in terms of attracting new businesses to Canada – For example UK-based iLand recently opened a Canadian data centre.

Thus across many dimensions Canada’s digital economy will be forged upon and accelerated by Canadian Cloud computing.

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