AWS ramping up Canadian commitment with third Canadian availability zone in Montreal

The new infrastructure announcement was a highlight of the AWS Summit in Toronto, which had a 50 per cent increase in attendance over the first such event last year.

AWS’ Joshua Burgin presenting at the Amazon Summit in Toronto

On Thursday, at the AWS Summit at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, AWS announced a new Availability Zone [AZ] within the Canadian AWS Region. The new AZ will be located in Montreal, and will open in early 2020. This announcement was a major highlight of a session where AWS’ commitment to and achievements in the Canadian market were emphasized.

This year’s Toronto summit drew 4500 people, up from 3000 last year the first time that the event was held.

“Each year we have our Re:Invent event [which this year is December 2-6 in Las Vegas],” said Joshua Burgin, Technical Advisor to the SVP of Utility Compute Services, who gave a keynote at the event. “While Re:Invent is our big learning opportunity, we host 30 of these regional summits worldwide to reach a lot more people, because not everyone can get to Re:Invent. They are free learning events, where we can have both conversations about the state of the business and the suite of services that we have. It’s a broad overview for people beginning their cloud journey who otherwise couldn’t keep up with all the new things.”

Burgin, who spent the previous five years as the General Manager of Compute Services at AWS, moved into this role in July.

“I was asked to do this role, which some people refer to it as a shadow, and which we do at AWS,” Burgin said, noting that present CEO Andy Jassy did it as well years ago. “AWS pulls someone out from the business to shadow someone [in Burgin’s case, Charlie Bell, SVP of Utility Compute Services]. I review every plan every team in this area has and hopefully raise the bar and help my boss extend his reach. Twelve months from now, Ill be moved to something else.”

Burgin also does speaking engagements like these – a lot of them.

“Amazon is so fast moving,” he said. “People are interested in how they can do that inside their own businesses. They want to know examples, especially Canadian examples, that are relevant to them, so that they can do something similar. I not only share our leadership principles, which are public, but about how we organize internally. I spend 75 per cent of my time talking about cultural transformation as part of the cloud journey.

“It can very easy to think of cloud as just a data centre in the sky, but it’s more than that,” Burgin continued. “Businesses are embracing the fact that they can be more cost effective and innovative at the same time. It’s not an ‘either-or’ scenario. It can both speed up time to market and let them do new things. That’s why culture is so important. Cloud unlocks things inside the company and enables them to be more productive.”

Burgin also emphasized the depth of the AWS and broader Amazon business in Canada.

“We have a deep and abiding connection,” he said. “Amazon has over 10,000 employees in Canada, with 950 job openings right now. 400 of those are AWS jobs.” They opened an AWS office in Winnipeg in April, with room for 100 employees. They also have several thousand employees in Vancouver and plan to locate several thousand more there in the next few years.

“We will continue to double down in Canada,” Burgin stressed. “We see very effective public -private partnerships here at the federal and provincial level.”

Burgin said that the announcement of the new AZ in Montreal within the AWS Canada (Central) region is an important one for Canadian customers.

“Having the third AZ in Montreal adds more capacity with more redundant power. Each AZ is separate from others in the region, but if one does go down physically, with a second one, you can have round robin-routing, and mathematically, a third AZ provides  6 9s of availability in the region.”

AWS also announced a new strategic relationship with Toronto-based Humber College, Canada’s largest community college. It will see AWS provide Humber’s infrastructure services in the cloud. Humber will also become an AWS Academy Institution and AWS Certification Testing Centre, and will develop the first comprehensive full-time Cloud Computing Ontario Graduate Certificate in Canada. The certificate is targeted for launch in Fall 2020.

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