Global cloud computing

With Canadian organizations increasingly turning to the cloud but often insisting on using data centres here, observers have been wondering when Amazon Web Services would turn north.

The answer is, in a few months. Amazon will unveil its first Canadian data centre and regional office in Montreal at the start of 2017, the company said recently in Toronto at its first AWS Enterprise Summit in this country.

It has had a small presence here since late last year when it opened a field office in Toronto.

Stephen Orban, the company’s head of enterprise strategy told an audience of current and potential customers the cloud giant’s strategy centres around information security, back office systems and end user computing being consumed in as-a-service model.

Any business with meaning has a cloud centre of excellence that provides best practices, automation and governance, he said.

This new model tends to spur on a dev-ops culture that creates new products as app teams work closer together to take on more responsibility, he said. The build-up tends to have a similar pattern: Companies start with a desire for optimization, then migration followed by the establishment of a foundation that leads to a project.

“AWS is not an all or nothing proposition, and can do hybrid. Try to automate everything so that you can take full advantage of the elasticity of the system,” Orban said.

What channel partners and customers should note is AWS is not a collection of services, but a platform to devote resources to a business securely, Orban said.

To that end, AWS Canada is offering products and services that aim to drive content deployment, back office systems such as email, collaboration, HR and ERP. Orban added that AWS can service end user computing needs such as desktop support and device management.

“Underneath that there is infrastructure, delivery systems, project management, engineering operations and design teams,” he said.

Supporting this offering are AWS services for migrating to the cloud such as:

  • AWS database migration services;
  • Migration between on premise and cloud databases;
  • Virtual machine imports and export; and
  • Deploying workloads across the infrastructure.

Also, the AWS Marketplace carries more than 2,750 products for cloud migration and operation. It has a total of 23 categories of which security, networking, database, business intelligence, storage and media are the most popular. These products are offered in a try-before-you buy option.

For Orban, the future is not a world where people run their own data centres.

He also advised thinking twice about developing a private cloud environment. One of the trends that is hitting home with channel partners and customers is hybrid clouds as a bridge to future. Orban, who has worked as a CTO at Bloomberg and Dow Jones before moving to AWS, said from his experience building a private cloud is not always a great use of resources.

“This whole cloud thing is an inevitability. Companies should not spend resources on areas that do not drive revenue for the business. There were skeptics (at Dow Jones) and we proved them wrong. We even surpassed our own expectations,” he added.

Dow Jones transformed its IT operation from devoting 70 per cent of resources to legacy and maintenance to 70 per cent focused on new product development; all the while reducing the IT budget by 10 per cent per year.

“It was not perfect, but at least we focused on things that mattered to the business,” Orban said.

He added that modern day business transformation is occurring in Canada starting with high profile organizations such as GE, Capital One, Dow Jones, the National Bank of Canada and Major League Baseball in the midst of cloud transformation. “Cloud transformation needs to be thought of in a different way. Those resources that are available on demand and running an infrastructure does not help them meet their business goals and can burden them with decades of technical debt,” he said.

Attendees at the summit also got to hear what Orban believes are the reasons for what’s holding back a full out move to the cloud. “Sometimes its political, fear of change from the employee base, and old IT operating models that need to be redesigned.”

Meanwhile, Orban said those thinking of going to the cloud are looking at either lower costs, driving innovation or expand globally or all of the above.


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