IBM brings public cloud to Canada

CloudsIBM Canada has opened its first Canadian data centre focused on the growing cloud market.

The company says it’s put $42 million into its new IBM Compute Cloud Centre, putting the facility on Canadian soil to help get by one of the biggest fears Canadian companies have with pursuing the cloud – privacy fears in general and concerns with the United States’ Patriot Act in particular.

“Canada is basically behind when it comes to cloud computing. Part of the reason is because it’s not available here, and part of it is that we’re a little apprehensive about using new services,” said Doug Jones, cloud computing executive at IBM Canada. “We’re the first major vendor to have a compute cloud installed on Canadian soil, and most Canadian businesses are reticent to have their data outside Canada.”

Agility and speed are two of the hallmarks of the service, Jones said, along with a sense of self-service. In fact, existing IBM Canada customers can provision themselves automatically. Only customers new to Big Blue will have to actually talk to an IBMer to get up and running.

But Jones said that many customers will be hearing from IBMers about the Compute Cloud Centre. The company plans to get the word out both through its direct sales force and its channel partners.

There are a couple of ways IBM’s business partners are getting involved with the Centre, Jones said, reporting that some of the company’s partners are set up to resell the cloud services offered from the facility and that the company continues to grow that group. And some partners are getting involved as customers. In fact, one of the first customers putting workloads up on the service is Mississauga, Ont.-based Buchanan Technologies Canada.

“Some partners are using it for their own stuff internally and some have applications they want to make available to their clientele,” Jones said. “I see them buying space on our compute cloud and then offering that back to sale for their clients.”

Jones said the company is run by the “same organization that hosts our major enterprise clients when we do outsourcing” within IBM Global Services. The company currently offers a 99.5 per cent availability SLA, suitable for what Jones described as “light production” tasks like running a Web site, as well as test and development workloads.

While common wisdom seems to hold that public cloud is most attractive to small businesses, and enterprises are choosing to roll their own private cloud solutions, Jones said he’s seeing quite a bit of interest from larger clients. Especially those who have looked at the option of private cloud and like what it can do for their agility and cost structure, but at some point along the road decide to go with a public cloud offering to avoid buying hardware and infrastructure to build their cloud, as well as the ongoing expenses of operating and maintaining the private cloud.

“Once we get into doing [private cloud] with them, more and more of them are changing their minds and saying ‘Maybe I should just go with public,’” he said.

In that way, public cloud is increasingly equally attractive to small companies with a handful (at best) of IT staff and the big national banks. “Both are equally interested in it, it’s just different usage patterns,” Jones said.

But the drivers remain the same for big and small alike – speed and agility, no capital costs, and ease of management.

The Compute Cloud Centre is Big Blue’s fifth such cloud-focused data centre worldwide, and its 17th data centre in Canada.