Most apps and data to move to the cloud; personal data will stay in-house

The doors are slamming shut and when the two-year process is complete, only two provincial data centres will remain out of a former network of 22.

While it’s a massive closure, the Ontario Ministry of Government Services says that the process will have no impact on its plans to make data more open and accessible to the public, and that the security of Ontarians’ private information will not be jeopardized.

“High-sensitivity data such as personal information will be held in the two remaining high-security data centres,” Ministry of Government Services spokesperson Alan Cairns told IT World Canada. Those centres are located in Guelph and Kingston.

“We’re moving apps and low-sensitivity data into the cloud,” Cairns said. “As part of that process we’re stepping very carefully into third-party hosting.” The Ontario.ca web site has already been moved to Amazon’s cloud servers.

One data centre has already been shuttered, and three more are in the process of being closed, Cairns said. The closures will be completed over the next two years, for a projected savings of $20 million through fiscal 2015-2016.

When the process is complete only the Guelph and Kingston centres will still be operated directly by the provincial government.

Cairns said the move would have no impact on the data-related elements of the province’s Open Government initiative. These include the plan announced last month to launch an online inventory of government data sets that will allow the public to vote online on which ones they want made public first.

The inventory currently includes more than 1,000 data set titles and descriptions and is being expanded as more data sets are identified. The provincial government says that public voting on the data inventory will help to build Ontario’s open data catalogue, which was launched in November 2012 and now has more than 170 data sets.

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