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There are more clouds gathering in Canada, and they are not harbingers of economic woes, but of IBM partnering with Bell to provide business customers across Canada with access to specialized cloud services on Bell’s Business Cloud.

Big Blue already has two data centres in Canada – one in Markham, Ontario and the other in Drummondville, Quebec. The new partnership with Canada’s largest telco will provide businesses with access to its cloud via a secure, high-speed connection and make it easier to adopt and built out hybrid environments, said Nevil Knupp, IBM Canada’s vice-president of cloud.

Data residency has led to growth of international cloud computing firms setting up data centres in Canada, but enterprises are also looking for a reliable and secure connection to the cloud that doesn’t rely on sending data over the public Internet, said Knupp. IBM’s partnership with Bell Business Cloud allows these customers to plug into the IBM Cloud and get direct access to a wide range of on-demand computing and storage options, including Bell Cloud Compute, a self-serve environment for managed virtual machines, as well as backup and restore capabilities for customer data and applications.

The partnership with Bell is part of IBM’s ongoing investment in data centres and cloud computing in Canada, said Knupp, which includes its cloud-focused developer environment embedded within Ryerson University’s DMZ incubator to help developers from both startups and enterprises build apps on its suite of cloud technologies – the first location in Canada.

IBM’s data centre in Markham has been up and running for about two years, and the Drummondville facility is about to celebrate its one-year anniversary, said Knupp. Having already addressed data residency, IBM is looking to further address customer security concerns by providing MPLS connectivity through Bell so they can process more data in the cloud. “Our customers are not moving everything into the cloud,” he said. “They are using the cloud to connect to the investments they have already made.”

Knupp said more and more public sector customers as well as those in heavily regulated industries are looking for cloud options.

Canada has been getting a lot of attention from U.S. cloud computing providers of late. Amazon, Microsoft and Oracle have all opened or announced data centres here over the past of year or so. The latter’s was driven in large part by the public sector looking to leverage SaaS in the cloud to provide efficient delivery of applications while at the same time assuaging concerns of the public over security and data compliance.

Last June, Microsoft announced it was building two data centres in Canada to support its customers cloud computing requirements and is spending more than US$10 billion a year on Azure data centres. CentriLogic set up a new data centre in the Greater Toronto Area in August to provide enterprise-grade services, while Rogers bolstered its has bolstered its presence in Atlantic Canada with the December acquisition of Internetworking Atlantic Inc. (IAI), including the company’s Halifax-based data centre.



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