SAP to house Canadian data here

Yielding to customer pressure on information sovereignty, SAP Canada will set up a data centre north of Toronto to assure organizations personal data won’t leave the country.

“It’s an emotional thing that I don’t even think makes sense when you’re connected to the Internet,” Bob Elliott, SAP Canada’s managing director said in an interview Thursday.

“Having said that,” he added, “it comes up time and time again, especially in the public sector and in the financial/banking sector, that they really want to know if they move to the cloud their data will be housed in a Canadian data centre.” British Columbia has mandated that service providers handling provincial data store it within Canada, he added.

With potential customers like those, it’s one reason why he describes the decision as “huge. We’re super-excited about what it will mean for the business in Canada.”

The other reason SAP will have a data centre here, he said, is that demand for the company’s cloud-based applications is increasing.

First to be available by the end of the year will be SAP’s SuccessFactors human resources suite, followed later by the Ariba business-to-business d procurement sevice and HANA Enterprise Cloud.

The servers themselves will be housed in a co-location facility owned by U.S.-based CenturyLink in Markham, Ont. SAP has not specified equipment CenturyLink must have to run its apps. Instead the provider has to meet service level agreements.

SAP is just the latest vendor to realize that worries about the reach of American law enforcement agencies to corporate data that in any way touches the U.S. can affect sales in many countries. As a result they are building or striking deals with service providers for local hosting. Similarly, data centre operators are sensing the market and expanding their facilities.

Customers often worry about the U.S. using the Patriot Act, which gives law enforcement agencies the right to subpoena data. But experts note Washington has a wide range of other legislation it can also use.

“Most Canadian companies and governments want to feel like their information is secure within their own borders,” said Elliott. But in addition SAP  “is scaling and growing so much in terms of cloud in Canada that it made economic sense as well as meeting that need.”

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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