In developing a technology approach that will help the City of Mississauga serve its diverse set of citizens across 23 defined communities, CIO Shawn Slack is eyeing a hybrid cloud approach as the basis of his future infrastructure needs.
The city is using components of SAP’s software as a service (SaaS) suite today, and has a roadmap to implement its in-memory database technology, HANA. Right now the finance department is using SAP Concur to handle expenses, and plans to deploy the Invoice module as well.
A hybrid model involving cloud infrastructure could take effect as early as next year, he says. The city’s workflow pieces and analytics data could be migrated to the cloud first. But privacy will be a consideration in moving the personally identifiable information of residents. Factors such as where the data resides will go into a privacy impact assessment.
Another factor to consider will be business continuity. If a major power outage hits Mississauga, Slack wants to be able to keep critical operations afloat. And by using a dedicated fibre connection to connect with SAP’s cloud, he can do that.
“Our primary buildings have generator power, we can run,” he says. “Through a peering connection with our cloud provider using a leased line, we’re supported by backup power there as well. Basically, you want to avoid going over the Internet.”
Cost will be a consideration too, of course. “We’re in the public sector,” Slack reminds us.
In a way, Slack feels operating in the cloud is a natural progression. He’s noticing that more often, cloud solutions are being put forward in response to the city’s RFPs. To respond, Mississauga has identified Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its standard for public cloud. Now council is looking to establish standards for working with Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform as well.
Those standards will be informed by proof of concept with each of those public cloud providers that were run in 2015. Those experiments helped Mississauga understand the complexities of integrating cloud resources with on-premises resources.
“It’s really just being transparent with the council and with the public,” Slack says. “We also have an open data policy.”