How Canada’s cloud computing sector can leverage the Snowden Affair

Snowden has given us the opportunity to finally start building a viable Canadian cloud IaaS ecosystem

August 3, 2013

Robert-HartCALGARY, AB, Aug. 3, 2013/Troy Media/ – Was anyone really surprised when Edward Snowden revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency collects massive amounts of customer data from cloud service providers and (gasp) disseminates it as they see fit through the U.S. government?

I mean, isn’t this what they do for a living?

At any rate, perception is reality, and it must becoming harder and harder for U.S.-based public cloud companies to sell Canadian customers on the fact that “it doesn’t matter where their data is hosted.” Businesses, rightfully so, view their data as intellectual property, and how many Canadian CIO’s are going to sign off on the potential fire sale of their company’s core asset?

Hey, we were already a risk-adverse bunch before Snowden bought a one-way ticket to Russia and every Canadian CEO started asking questions about cloud computing and where their company’s data is hosted. Ironically, the cloud conversation has finally started at the top level of every Canadian company. And, this, thank you Edward, is a very good thing.

Cloud Computing has been called lots of things, but “the second industrial revolution,” probably summarizes its transformational capabilities the best. It dramatically improves and accelerates the way companies develop, monetize and commercialize innovation, engage with their customers, and differentiate against their competition. These are big, strategic, game-changing things but the NSA/PRISM scandal has forced Canadian companies to take a closer look at the potential risk of hosting their data with big U.S. based cloud companies.

You know, the ones with massively distributed, highly scalable and very inexpensive cloud offerings. I’ve heard many Canadian CIO’s say “if only there was a Canadian solution similar to Amazon or Rackspace, we could remove the privacy barrier and risk and assertively begin our journey to the cloud”.

Up until very recently, I would suggest that the marketplace for Canadian hosted cloud infrastructure was extremely limited, perhaps even non-existent. By cloud, I mean something open, elastic, on demand, and marketplace driven – Ie. not simply hosted virtualization. The landscape is changing rapidly and some viable and unique Canadian hosted cloud services are starting to become widely available. Let me introduce you to a few of them.

Nebula recently introduced its industry changing Nebula One platform to Canadians. Nebula One brings the cloud to the customer, under their control, behind their firewall. It is an integrated hardware and software appliance providing distributed compute, storage, and network services in a unified system – and you can host it in your own Canadian data centre(s) as an enterprise or managed cloud service provider. Chris Kemp, Founder and CEO of Nebula and Co-Founder of OpenStack commented, “Not only do our Canadian customers value the on-premise nature of our private cloud system, but they value the opportunity to contribute to the international ecosystem of developers in the core technology OpenStack, making it the fastest growing open source project in history.”

Cloudops, ( has been around since 2005 (a lifetime in the world of cloud) and provide private, public and hybrid cloud solutions for businesses seeking to scale, and for enterprises making their move to the Cloud. Ian Rae, Founder and CEO commented, “We focus on enabling businesses with the best of public and private cloud technologies, so your applications and data can benefit from the economics, security, performance and scalability of both private and public cloud computing. While cloud computing is a revolution, cloud transformation is a step-by-step transitional process. We guide Canadian organizations though the complexity while minimizing risk to the business.”

Cloud A (www.clouda.a) leverages multiple data centres across Canada, using the proven OpenStack software at its core. Now Canadian organizations can finally build truly scalable cloud applications and IaaS environments with the confidence that the data will remain in Canada. “With the advent of technologies like Openstack, there is no valid reason there can’t be a Canadian equivalent to cloud solutions like AWS that enable its clients to know and choose where their data is located,” said Brandon Kolybaba, Co-founder and CEO. “It’s sad that we so often compare what we do to what happens south of the border, It’s limiting in many ways. Why are we not talking about how we will emerge as global leaders in this space as we’ve done with smart phone, networking, and telephony in the past?”

So, then, Edward Snowden may have shed light on a program that has been accused of possibly “killing the U.S. Internet Industry” (it won’t – the CIA contract Amazon just won was a big one), but I suggest we leverage Edward’s clean conscience as an opportunity to finally start building a viable Canadian cloud IaaS ecosystem. One that can compete with the Amazons of the world, not just because it is built across Canadian data centers, but one that can compete globally on its own uniqueness and merit. Wait a minute, are those drones circling above my head?

Robert Hart, one of Canada’s preeminent cloud thought leaders, disruptors and revolutionists is founder and CEO of the Canadian Cloud Council.

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