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AWS growing its Canadian footprint

After a 10-year presence in Canada, AWS has put down roots in Montreal, making the city its first data centre “region” on North American soil outside the United States.

Establishing the new region is an important first step towards a much larger footprint the company is building in the Canadian market.

“We’ve been operating in Canada for 10 years and we have thousands of customers deploying more and more resources. And, so to build out our Canadian presence, we now have a full array of resources such as sales support, marketing and partner network,” says Eric Gales, AWS Canada’s general manager.

Amazon Web Services, “regions” represent a cluster of data centres in a specific area, typically between five and 20 data centres.It’s unclear how many data centre will make up the Montreal region, but company officials confirmed the region will be able to run a hybrid environment.

Montreal joins 15 other regions around the world for AWS. The AWS Cloud operates 40 Availability Zones within these 15 regions.

The AWS region is not just one data centre, Gales added. It consists of two availability zones, which have one or more data centres within each. These data centres are distinct from each other and are powered by different grids to ensure redundancy. 

Gales says within the new region the push is to align service needs with IT budgets.

“There is no commitment when you sign up with AWS. You turn on the power and you pay. Use some capacity and pay. Don’t use it, don’t pay. You can fail fast with AWS and have the flexibility to try things out cheaply,” Gales said.

The region in Montreal will be open to the channel. AWS Canada wants to grow its base and is also planning on investing in channel training and marketing, both for consulting partners and regional partners.

“The launch of the region makes the market bigger for partners. Partners can now do a range of services such as consulting and managed services. This will help them grow their customer base by enabling them to provide training and re-platforming applications for the Cloud,” Gales said.

AWS has chosen to expand in this area for business, technical and data-sovereignty reasons. The Seattle-based Cloud giant said customers want to have apps and data — especially government agencies’ — living in the specific country of origin.

Montreal was selected, in part, because there are already a lot of data centres located in Quebec and there is an abundance of power coming from green sources. AWS Canada wants to be carbon-neutral and the hydro power readily available in Quebec gives the company room to grow.

The Montreal region is part of a global AWS infrastructure expansion that will eventually include seven more availability zones and be part of four new regions that include China, Paris and London, which are planned for 2017.