Canadian GovCloud Computing – Igniting Innovation in the Public Sector

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’.

This is one exemplar case study of how the Canadian Government is defining Cloud computing as a technology central to their goal of building a world class Digital Government.

Cloud Best Practices

The Canadian Government publish their Cloud adoption strategy and best practices here, providing guidance on key topics such as Data Residency Requirements. Data Sovereignty, Security and Risk Management.

The Cloud Adoption Strategy proposes increasing levels of benefit in line with the scope of outsourcing.

What should be outsourced is regulated through the classification of data security, defining levels, Protected A, B and C, and from that enabling associated services – Early adopters include Shared Services Canada.

This highlights how global Cloud providers notably AWS and Microsoft Azure, have set up local Canadian data centres so that they can comply with the core requirement of Canadian data residency.

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.

At their 2019 Ottawa Public Sector Summit Rejean Bourgault, who heads up AWS Canada’s government team, leads a comprehensive walk through of AWS in Canada, their product portfolio and how it is being used to stimulate and enable innovative new digital services, including a case study from Economic Development Canada.

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.

Cloud powering the Digital Economy

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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