Canadian government catches up on cloud at GTEC

Cloud computing and data centre consolidation projectsappear to be dominating the debate at this week’s Government TechnologyExhibition and Conference in Ottawa.

The annual tech event, which aims to bring IT leaders fromthe public and private sector together, was kicked off on Monday by a series of“Cloud Camp” sessions hosted by open source giant Red Hat Inc.

Chris Tindel, a manager of solution architects for Red Hat,told the Ottawa Citizen that “everyone” at the show is talking about the cloud.“I see everyone moving to this model because the economics are so compelling,”he said.

Ottawa Citizen reporter Vito Pilieci, who is covering GTEC forthe newspaper, said the federal government, in particular, stands to gain froma move to the cloud as it will allow several departments to their computingneeds and lower operating costs.

“For example, federal departments such as Canada RevenueAgency could share servers with Immigration Canada and Human Resources andSkills Development Canada, as opposed to each of those departments having theirown networks, each staffed by groups of administrators,” he wrote.

The theme of adapting and embracing new technologiescontinued on Tuesday during Canadian CIO Corinne Charette’s opening keynote.The federal CIO told conference attendees that data now segregated both bytechnology systems and departments will soon be “as easy to access as anelectrical outlet, or a dial tone.”

According to the Ottawa Citizen reporter Robert Bostelaar,Charette said the 200 government data centres and server farms currently inoperation will be reduced to as few as 15 data centres over the next decade.Some of them might even be operated by the private sector, she added, withoutgoing into any specifics in how much these changes would cost.

Charette also said that while updating government systems tomeet these new requirements would lead to significant costs, the actualstreamlining of systems will not mean lost IT jobs.

An area where both the private and public sector might needto shore up is enterprise and government search.

Randy Woods, the co-founder at Ottawa-based e-businesssolution provider Non-Linear Creations, told Ottawa Business Journal reporterElizabeth Howell that while company and government search engines haveimproved, there’s still a long road ahead.

“The right place to start is to figure out where the biggestpain points are,” Woods told the newspaper. “I can tell you for both the publicand private sector, that is finding a person. That might be as simple aslooking up the phone number I need (to find) someone who knows something about‘insert something here’.”

Rounding out the hot topics at the show is the government’squest to release more open data.

TechVibes blogger Robert Janelle attended a GTEC sessionfeaturing open government activist David Eaves. The open data activist, whohelps run, told TechVibes that even government departments arestarting to use open data to get information from other departments faster thanit takes to fill out a request form.

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