AWS Canada recounts recent trumps at Re:Invent Canada Curtain Raiser

AWS has launched a second Canadian region, in Calgary, to better serve western Canada, while also significantly expanding their AWS re/Start skills development programs with new initiatives that will go live in early 2022.

said Eric Gales, Country Manager for AWS Canada

On Monday, AWS kicked off its flagship AWS Re:Invent customer event, this year taking place in a hybrid format, with the physical component back in its usual home at the Venetian in Las Vegas. The AWS Canada leadership team provided an update to Canadian media about what the company has been up to here over the last year, and their plans moving forward.

“It’s been another interesting year for us,” said Eric Gales, Country Manager for AWS Canada. “The pace of innovation and transformation was accelerated by the pandemic, when customers realized they had a lack of agility. We have seen accelerated cloud adoption during the course of this pandemic year. Leading up to the pandemic, we still had ‘why cloud’ conversations. Now, we don’t. It’s ‘where do I start’ and ‘how do I go more quickly.’ As a result, we are excited about the rate of adoption we are seeing in every business and in every industry.”

The big news for AWS in Canada came in October, with the announcement that AWS was building a second region, AWS Canada West (Calgary) Region. This region, with three Availability zones, will launch in the late 2023/early 2024 timeframe.

“This will give our customers in western Canada the lower latency from having a western region,” Gales said. “This came about because of feedback from customers and growth in both commercial and public sectors. Canada is now the fourth major geography to have two regions.”

Gales said that he has been asked a lot about two things in particular, both new services which were added in 2021.

“One is Amazon Connect, our cloud-based Contact Centre,” he stated. “We have seen huge adoption, both in Canada and globally. It’s an easy way to set up and scale contact centre capability.”

The other is Amazon Quantum Ledger Database [QLDB]—a fully managed ledger database.

“QLDB is a database that creates a history of company’s transactions using blockchain,” Gales said. “We are starting to see adoption in Canada.” This was originally announced at Re:Invent 2019 and made available in the AWS Canada Central Region this year.

Amazon as a whole now employs 39,500 employees in Canada, 2800 of whom work for AWS specifically. 500 AWS positions in Canada are currently open. They have offices in Vancouver, Winnipeg and Toronto.

“By 2037, we will invest $21 billion in both the Calgary and Montreal regions, which will support more than 5000 direct and indirect jobs, said Rejean Bourgault,  Country Manager – Canada Public Sector, at AWS. “Just in Calgary alone, we will invest $4.3 billion over the next 15 years, and we will support 2500 jobs in Quebec over the next 15 years.”

Gales also emphasized the importance of fostering skills development. AWS has been training people in Canada with cloud skills since 2013, but this initial effort received a major boost when at Re:Invent last year, Amazon & AWS committed to providing free cloud computing skills training to 29 Million people by 2025. AWS  re/Start, a 12-week, full-time, classroom-based skills development and training program, is supported by funding from AWS, government and Pay it Forward recruitment fees when companies place a new graduate. AWS re/Start is now in 52 cities across 25 countries, and AWS says it has already trained six million people globally.

“AWS re/Start targets the unemployed and underemployed and trains them in cloud computing, and also connects students to potential employers,” Gales said. “It launched in Canada in July 2020.”

The plan is to have four of these programs across Canada operational by early 2022. The one launched last July was done in conjunction with Youth Employment Services [YES] in Toronto.

“Today, YES is teaming up with BC Tech to expand it into British Columbia,” Gales said.  Set to launch in early 2022 is a re/Start program involving AWS, PLATO and BMO that will target indigenous, and give students who complete the program a six-month internship at BMO. Another such program involves AWS and Mount Royal University in Calgary teaming up with Calgary’s Edge UP 2.0 to deliver re/Start program to unemployed and underemployed oil and gas sector professionals in the Calgary area.

“When we announced this program in Calgary, we had hundreds of applicants for Mount Royal University within a week,” Bourgault said.

Bourgault also went through AWS’s achievements on the sustainability front, beginning with the announcement that Amazon was on track to achieve its pledge of net-zero carbon emissions across its business by 2025, five years ahead of its 2030 target.

“We also announced several major projects to reduce the impact on the environment,” Bourgault said. This includes an 80 megawatt solar project in the County of Newell and a 375 MW solar farm in Vulcan, Alberta that is the largest in Canada, and can keep 100,000 homes going for more than a year.

Gales also noted some major wins for AWS in Canada during the last year. In June, BMO selected them as their preferred cloud provider.

“They moved entire business to cloud natively, improving customer service at a cost reduction of 30%,” he said.

In April, PaySafe payment service signed a deal to migrate digital wallets to AWS. In June, Bell Canada, announced AWS Canada was their preferred public cloud provider. In July, Sun Life, announced AWS was their long term CSP.