New Canadian government decision could cut out the channel

According to a document from Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), government data centres will be classified as a national security priority, which means equipment and services for building data centres will be procured differently than they are today.

The nightmare scenario for Canadian solution providers is that the government may have no choice but to do direct deals with manufacturers on data centre and cut them out entirely.

A notification to Canadian solution providers and other suppliers for PWGSC, at the request of Shared Services Canada was sent out yesterday.

In that document, Shared Services has invoked the National Security Exception under Canada’s domestic and international trade agreements in connection with procurements for Shared Services related to email, networks, telecommunications systems, data centres, infrastructure and services.

According to the document, this is part of a Government of Canada strategy to create a secure, centralized communications infrastructure.

This decree will be nothing new to solution providers as federal public works minister Rona Ambrose clearly said during the Aug. 11 press conference in Ottawa that Shared Services Canada will have a mandate to streamline and reduce duplication in the government’s IT services. “Taking action will help our Government reduce duplication, and over time our government footprint. It will also strengthen security and the safety of government data to ensure Canadians are protected.”

The government has learned over the past few years that data centres have been targeted by what they called “hostile threats”. These threats have given Government of Canada IT officials grave concerns about implications of cyber-threats on Canada’s national security coupled with the feds’ aging infrastructure in email, networks and data centres, all of which are interconnected. The government now believes they are vulnerable to such cyber-threats, according to the document.

The government is also concerned about the solution provider supply chain, saying that there could be potential compromises there too.

Shared Services will be treating the government as an enterprise and try to bolster security through this consolidation effort launched last August.

Solution providers should know that the National Security Exception will apply to a variety of procurements, which may involve different procurement strategies.

However, PWGSC and Shared Services anticipate that, in some cases, the procurement strategy may involve the pre-selection of solution providers who, among other things, meet certain security clearance criteria at the time of pre-selection.

As a result look for solution providers and key individuals within these companies who do not currently hold a security clearance at the level of Secret should consider seeking to upgrade their security clearance status, since procurements will not be delayed in order to provide time for suppliers to obtain required security clearances, the document went on to say.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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