The Canadian cloud?

Can customers afford to wait on Canada’s public cloud, as it’s a few years behind the U.S. offerings?The answer is yes, but there’s not a lot to wait around for.

Fusepoint Managed Services, for example, agrees that Canada is behind the U.S. in terms of adoption of a public cloud but there’ll be plenty of preparation needed just to get customers to a point where they can take advantage of the cloud. And the preparation starts with virtualization.

“The Canadian market place is conservative and there are only a handful of hosting providers relative to the U.S. In the States they’ve delved into the public cloud and only a few are in Canada because there are few high-volume clients who really need it,” said Bik Dutta, director of product management for Fusepoint of Toronto.

Bell, Telus and Allstream would be the candidates for a high volume public cloud. Fusepoint manages private clouds for enterprises for those customers who want to outsource some or all of their IT. Dutta said demand has increased because of virtualization.

“In the last couple of years we’ve thought that virtualization was an automatic. But not a lot of customers have gone down that path,” Dutta said.

Softchoice president and CEO Dave MacDonald agreed, saying that before a customer enters a private or public cloud, they need to virtualize their environment.

“I think it’s important to do virtualization first if you want application services such as, Oracle, SAP or other cloud apps,” MacDonald said.

Dutta added that there is a perception that enterprises are not quite ready for the cloud as a prime time producer and with that customers get some built-in wait time.

“It will happen that major Canadian providers will go to the full elastic cloud model. It’s just a matter of time,” Dutta said. He estimates that this will occur in a few years’ time.

There’s a huge channel opportunity in the meantime with virtualization and by providing council and developing a plan that would take customers to the cloud, MacDonald added.

Don’t look for Softchoice to be one of those public cloud companies, however.

MacDonald told CDN that while the company offers Microsoft cloud solutions and through its IT asset management service on the cloud, they have no need to build their own cloud infrastructure.

IT managers are still wary of using cloud computing services within their own operations, according to the results of a survey released by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA).

In the ISACA IT Risk/Reward Barometer, an online survey that attracted 1,809 responses from ISACA members, 45 per cent of the participants indicated that the risks of cloud computing outweigh the benefits.

Moreover, only 10 per cent of the respondents planned to use cloud computing for mission critical services, and 26 per cent had no plans to use cloud computing in any form whatsoever.

As with any new model of IT services delivery, IT managers will take some time to become familiar and comfortable with cloud computing, said Robert Stroud, international vice-president of ISACA and a vice-president of IT service management and governance for CA. He noted outsourcing faced the same suspicion when it was introduced to IT managers.

Although the survey did not specify what risks are associated with cloud computing, Stroud said that most IT managers worry about keeping data private and secure in a cloud setting. They also worried what would happen to the data should the cloud service provider go out of business.

Cloud service providers could do more to ease these worries by offering more information around their internal security and privacy procedures, Stroud said.

“Transparency is a key aspect of risk management,” Stroud said. For cloud providers, “if you have effective governance in place, transparency should not be an issue. In fact, it should be a competitive advantage.”

Analyst firm IDC predicts that cloud services will generate US$44.2 billion by 2013.

Like any Web-based survey, the results should be generalized only with some circumspection.

Participation was voluntary and limited to existing ISACA members. ISACA is an organization dedicated to setting standards for information systems governance, control, security and auditing. So its audience might tend to be more cautious than most IT workers. Also, the results are confined to U.S. participants.

With files from Joab Jackson, IDG News Service

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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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