The cloud, a vague term used to describe all sorts of things involving the internet, has long confounded cautious Canadians, who have for years approached the ambiguity with our conventional conservation.
Benefits for cloud adoption, public or private, are both obvious and myriad: high cost savings potential, more efficient use of resources, and tremendous flexibility and scalability opportunities. These benefits can be realized by virtually any company, tech or otherwise, with a broad range of practical applications. But in terms of adopting cloud computing as a standard business practice, Canada ranks below Japan, France, Germany, and the US, the latter of which leads adoption rates.
Maybe Canadians are wise in their reluctance. As outspoken Canadian law professor Michael Geist Cloud pointed out in a recent essay, "cloud computing services offer the promise of convenience and cost savings, but at a price of reduced control over your own content, reliance on third-party providers and potential privacy risks should the data 'hosted in the cloud' be disclosed to law enforcement agencies without appropriate disclosure or oversight."
Geist is referring to Canada's reliance on the US cloud. And ever since Edward Snowden exposed widespread surveillance by the National Security Agency, Canadians have been wondering if the rewards of the cloud are worth the risks. "When even the Canadian government insists on domestic computer servers for its information, it may be time for individual Canadians to think about doing the same," writes Geist.
A Canadian cloud isn't imminent, but our nation has still come a long way in terms of protecting valuable information and making it accessible only by the correct people. More important, Canadian-specific services are helping to keep our data in our country, not in the US, where the cloud gets tangled up in the complexities of the Patriot Act and may be more prone to government spying. For example, Canadian companies such as Ontario's Canadian Cloud Backup offer a robust portfolio of cloud-related services for discerning Canadian customers.
"It's easier than ever for Canadians to utilize the cloud," says Chris Medeiros of Canadian Cloud Backup, Canada's premier cloud offering. "And the cloud is delivering more benefits to businesses than ever, too."
"Like it or not, the future of business online is in the cloud," agrees Damon Gudaitis, a marketing coordinator for technology services company Optimus Information. Historically, this has meant putting your data on US soil or under control of US companies.
Although it's true that Canadian internet companies have lagged behind their US counterparts in investing in real cloud infrastructure in Canada with multiple regions and availability zones, Canada is actually a brilliant choice for cloud infrastructure located near the US but not in it—as Gudaitis notes, our cooler climate helps reduce the substantial data center cooling costs, while our relatively abundant renewable energy appeals to a companies looking to establish enough data centers to form a true cloud.
Canadian clouds are not a matter of "if," but rather "when," according to Medeiros. And as barriers drop and security improves, there are fewer and fewer reasons for Canadian companies to hesitate when adopting this emerging technology.