Answers to two of the commonly asked questions regarding Canadian cloud hosting…
Are there any legal or security issues affecting use of cloud services in Canada?
Yes, Canadian businesses ae facing numerous concerns related to using cloud computing.
One of the issues being faced are those related to data residency and storage of personally identifiable information. “The Government of Canada and provincial governments have been required to manage the privacy of personal information since the passage of the Privacy Act of 1983. With the development of online commerce, requirements for the protection of personal information were extended to private sector organizations holding electronic records of personal information when the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act of 2004 was passed.” (Vaultive, 2015)
The problems that software providers experience, especially when creating Canadian wide platforms in cloud, are typically complicated by the fact that in Canada, the regulations differ among the provinces and territories. For example, provinces such as British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec would see the rules and regulations that could be quite different from the rest of the provinces (e.g. Manitoba or Ontario). So, whereas in one province we may see the requirement for keeping the Personally identifiable information (PII) data located within Canada, in another province we don’t have the requirement. Such differences truly limit options for some of the businesses and as a result, those can only look at Canadian cloud providers with the data centers located in Canada.
This is also complicated by the fact, that even if the cloud company of choice has the data center located in Canada, as long as they are based out of USA, some firms (depending on the location) can’t use their services. This is due to the fact, that US companies are subject to the USA Patriot Act, which contradicts laws and regulations of some of the Canadian provinces. “In the US (or for US companies doing business outside of the US), the US Patriot Act permits government and law enforcement agencies the ability to search data retained by service providers.” (Canadian data privacy & data residency, 2015).
So, if you are the company that serves the software in all of the Canadian provinces, you will need to be compliant with all of the provincial regulations. This will at the end of the day, drastically limit your choices to only choosing from among Cloud hosting solutions that are 100% Canadian.
How much usage is made of cloud computing in Canada?
In North America, more specifically in Canada, we’re right in the middle of a paradigm shift in perception of cloud services. Client and server based infrastructure is giving the way to cloud-based architectures as both hardware and software solutions are moving into cloud.
There are many reasons and advantages for Canadian businesses to move their local infrastructure and software solutions to cloud IIAS, PaaS, and SAAS offerings, and it is difficult to pinpoint the most common reason for doing so. However, the following statement summarizes it quite well: “Cloud computing has become a highly demanded service or utility due to the advantages of high computing power, cheap cost of services, high performance, scalability, accessibility as well as availability.” (Cloud computing, 2016)
As any other business, also Canadian businesses are seeking to gain a competitive differentiation in the marketplace by using these cheaper technologies. So cloud is an obvious choice. Additionally, as most of the cloud offerings also come bundled with complimentary computing services (e.g. big data analytics, reporting services, etc.) they provide valuable business insights, that would otherwise (due to associated on-premise costs) be out of the reach for most of the small and mid-size Canadian firms.
Cloud computing (2016) in Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing (Accessed: 14 August 2016).
Vaultive, I. (2015) Canadian Privacy and Data Residency Requirements. Available at: http://vaultive.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Vaultive_WP-Canadian.pdf (Accessed: 14 August 2016).
Canadian data privacy & data residency (2015) Available at: https://www.clouda.ca/data-privacy-canadian-data-residency/ (Accessed: 14 August 2016).