ITWC Morning Briefing, September 21, 2020 – Alberta wants your data centres, Microsoft news, plus more

To keep up with the firehose of news, we’ve decided to deliver some extra news to you on the side every Monday and Thursday morning. Some of it is an extension of our own reporting that didn’t make its way into a story, while others might be content we’ve bookmarked for later reading and thought of sharing with you. We’re doing a similar thing at Channel Daily News – check it out here. You can also view our previous ITWC Morning Briefing here. Today’s briefing is delivered by ITWC editorial director Alex Coop. 

What you need to know right now

It’s what you need to know right now in the world of IT and tech – ’nuff said. (Often taken with a side of Hashtag Trending and Cyber Security Today)


Hashtag Trending

Listen here:

The TikTok saga gets an update, Facebook gets slammed in the New York Times, and iPhone owners are suddenly obsessed with sharing their flashy new home screens.


Cyber Security Today

Listen here:

Cause of controversial ransomware hack found, lessons from a hack and attackers give away malware code.


Admins urged to patch Windows Server immediately to close vulnerability [IT WORLD CANADA]

IT administrators are being urged to prioritize installing a security patch for Windows Server that Microsoft issued in August to close a vulnerability in Active Directory.


You’ll never escape news about TikTok …

TikTok says a new proposal involving Oracle and Walmart is on the table, and work is underway to form a commercial partnership with the retail giant. Under the proposal, Oracle becomes TikTok’s “trusted technology partner” in the U.S. with a 12.5 per cent stake in the social media firm, while Walmart would purchase 7.5 per cent of TikTok Global. Following the announcements, the US Department of Commerce said the prohibition of TikTok transactions will now be delayed until 11:59 pm on September 27. According to Reuters, TikTok owner ByteDance was racing to avoid a crackdown on TikTok after the U.S. Commerce Department said on Friday it would block new downloads and updates to the app come Sunday.



A one-on-one with Robert Fernandez, director economic diversification at Parkland County, Alberta


The Province of Alberta is presently home to 12 large-scale data centres. There are nine in and around Calgary (three Q9 data centres, Data Hive, Calgary Watermark Tower, Rigstar Data Centre, 1313, CAL-1 and Care Factor FA) and three data centres in and around Edmonton (the Internet Centre, Wolfpaw-EDM and 4Web Edmonton Data Centre)

Parkland County’s Robert Fernandez has a front-row seat to the province’s burgeoning data centre business, as the region’s treasured dark fibre and favourable weather conditions – for data centres anyway – become a high-value target for businesses. The crypto-mining business, for example, is one of them. VBit DC, a cryptocurrency mining company, earlier this year raised $1.1 million in a seed funding round led by Golden Age. That was followed by an announcement about how the proceeds will be used in setting up a Bitcoin mining facility in Alberta, Canada, with a capacity of 200 megawatts (MW).

“We’re looking at $400-$600,000 per acre for serviced land. that in combination with energy availability and fibre infrastructure is very competitive, even for Western Canada,” Fernandez explained while outlining the financial benefits that come with setting up shop in Alberta. “We also have the lowest municipal tax rate and combine that with provincial tax rates that have gone down by roughly 50 per cent recently – going from 12 per cent down to eight.”

The speed with which approvals are given to data centre proposals is also part of the pitch. Fernandez says it usually takes approximately a month for approvals to be obtained for data centre projects. With Edmonton and Calgary nearby, talent acquisition is also less of a problem. Calgary is No. 34 on the North American tech talent ranking. The city has 42,500 tech jobs as of 2019, and an average tech worker wage of $95,222.

But Parkland County and the rest of Alberta has some serious competition with the East Coast. Last year, the Montreal region was named the best location in the world to set up a data center according to the Datacloud Global Congress, outranking the likes of top contenders including Finland, Norway and Scotland.

Fernandez is confident that Alberta can offer the best bang for your buck when it comes to data centres. It’s still a secret to most of the world, he adds.

“They all come back with the same feedback: ‘We never thought of setting up here and looking at your jurisdiction.’ The softer factors are becoming more important too,” he adds, referring to the picturesque landscapes just a short drive away from Edmonton and Calgary.

In case you missed it

The recent news that we maybe didn’t get to yet, or it’s the news we’ve reported on and feel is worth resurfacing. Sometimes we’ll also feature awesome stories from other publications.


The second stop of the AI Pathfinder Virtual Roadshow 

The second stop of the AI Pathfinder Virtual Roadshow – Unravel The Power Of Natural Language Processing – was hosted last week by Marzi Rasooli, data scientist, and Yen Nguyen, solutions specialist within the data sciences team at SAS. 

The speakers dived into how natural language processing (NLP) models are constructed and work for different use cases; and how businesses can better capture the information and human experiences locked in the data passing through SAS to drive operational improvements. You can watch the online session here

The SAS _AI Pathfinder Virtual Roadshow is meant to help businesses accelerate their course towards becoming an AI-driven organization, says SAS.  

The next stop – Computer Vision – is scheduled to go live on Sept. 30 wherein the Susan Kahler, global product marketing manager for AI for SAS and Greg Horne, principal global consultant for healthcare at the company will shed light on the basics of computer vision, ways to get implementations right and where to use it for best effect. [Filed by Pragya Sehgal]


New skills up for grabs

Microsoft Canada announced a new Canada Skills Program to deliver training, curriculum and Microsoft Azure credits to students at 12 institutions across the country, enabling them to graduate with in-demand data analytics, AI and cloud certifications. 

The first 12 post-secondary institutions to sign on with the Microsoft Canada Skills Program are:  

  • British Columbia: University of British Columbia; Vancouver Community College  
  • Alberta: University of Calgary; Northern Alberta Institute of Technology; Red Deer College; Southern Alberta Institute of Technology; Bow Valley College  
  • Saskatchewan: SaskPolytechnic 
  • Ontario: Seneca College, Humber College; Ontario Tech University; Algonquin College  


Canadian government and Shaw pull new fibre optic line in rural B.C. [IT World Canada] 

A joint program between Shaw Communications and the Canadian government will pull 40 km of fibre optic cable between Whistler and Mount Currie to bring high-speed internet access to rural parts of British Columbia, announced Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) recently.


B.C. appeal court green-lights data breach class action lawsuit [IT World Canada] 

British Columbia’s highest court says a class action lawsuit alleging negligence and breach of contract against a trust company in a 2013 data breach can go to trial.


First death reported following a ransomware attack on a German hospital [ZDNet]

The death occurred after a patient was diverted to a nearby hospital after the Duesseldorf University Hospital suffered a ransomware attack.


Bookmarks of the week

A few bookmarked tweets that we think are worth sharing with you.





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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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