Facility means those wanting IaaS or PaaS services will have data stored here

IBM will open its first SoftLayer data centre in Toronto today to meet the demands of Canadian customers that want cloud or hybrid solutions and be assured their sensitive data stays here.

The launch is part of a promise by IBM to spend US$1.2 billion to extend its SoftLayer platform and infrastructure as a service (PaaS, IaaS) offerings around the world. Similar data centres have already been opened in London and Hong Kong.

SoftLayer is IBM’s brand for  bare metal and virtual servers, storage, and networking, all in one integrated platform. Basing these services in a local facility meets the needs of Canadian customers that require in-country data residency, IBM said, such as financial institutions, public sector organizations and large enterprises.

“We currently have 1,200 (SoftLayer) customers in Canada,” Marc Jones, the division’s new global CTO, said in an interview. “This year we’re started to have more of a global. We had a pretty good mix of global and domestic customers, and then we announced our $1.2 billion plan to expand.  A big driver of that is to get data centers and cloud computing resources not only closer to our customers but our customers’ customers” who want data centres relatively close

But also, he said, some organizations insist that corporate data be held locally. “I wouldn’t say we hear it a lot,” he added,  but as more traditional enterprises seek cloud solutions — as opposed to what he called early adopters who are Internet-centric  — data sovereignty is more of an issue.

The Toronto facility has the space for 15,000 physical servers. As a lure, new customers are eligible for a $500 discount off the first month of service.

“Toronto is the fourth largest city in North America, and a vital financial and technological hub—not only for the province of Ontario but for all of Canada,” Lance Crosby, SoftLayer’s CEO, said in a statement. “We have hundreds of existing Canadian customers that can now have SoftLayer services deployed closer to home, and thousands of customers that will take advantage of the facility to get closer to end users in this market.”   

IBM (NYSE: IBM) hopes a number of Canadian-based organizations already using Softlayer through offshore data centres will switch to the Toronto facility, including Canadian startup companies that are members of the SoftLayer Catalyst startup program. Catalyst provides promising startups with credits for any SoftLayer cloud infrastructure (including servers, storage, and networking), executive mentoring, as well as engineering resources.

Currently enrolled Canadian startups include MnuboEpiloggerBrikaGreenoffonZilyoTeachItmaegan and kiwiwearables. Catalyst also has established relationships with Canadian accelerators and incubators including GrowLabCommunitechRyerson University Digital Media Zone (DMZ), JOLTFounderFuelExtreme Startups and TheNext36 as well as those affiliated with the Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE).

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