Toronto and Quebec City are headed to the Microsoft cloud

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Microsoft announced Tuesday that it will be opening two cloud data centres in Canada, in Toronto and Quebec City.

The tech juggernaut stated that Azure, Dynamics CRM Online and Office 365 will be delivered from the two cities, which will enhance the company’s presence in the country’s cloud economy.

According to Microsoft, the new centres will cover data residency considerations for customers and businesses that want to improve their workloads and offer new digital services to their clients and staff. With Canadian tech companies to spend approximately $2.5 billion on cloud computing services this year – the quickest gains will stem from public cloud infrastructure – Microsoft’s move was a no-brainer.

It is expected that Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online will be available next year.

For those that may be concerned about their data being used outside of Canada, Microsoft Canada president Janet Kennedy assured Canadians that their data will stay within the borders of the country and remain under the nation’s jurisdiction.

Kennedy did not confirm how many jobs would be created or how much the project would cost. Toronto Mayor John Tory did say, however, that 14,000 jobs are connected to the cloud niche.

“We’re bringing Toronto into the 21st-century,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said. “Toronto is home to a skilled and talented workforce that is ready to bring ideas to life. The City is committed to investing in state-of-the-art infrastructure that’s needed to attract good jobs and fuel innovation.”

Some fear, though, that Microsoft won’t hire Toronto or Quebec City professionals but rather Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs), something that has been a contentious issue over the past couple of years.

Precedents have been set

Many tech titans, including Amazon and IBM, have been establishing data centres worldwide.

Ontario Deputy Premier Deb Matthews commended the tech giant for helping the province’s professionals to work and complete on a global scale.

“This commitment by Microsoft will further enhance the ability of Ontario’s innovative business sector to thrive and compete with the best in the world,” said Matthews. “To date more than 3,200 Canadian startups have benefited from joining the free BizSpark program, many of which are based in Ontario. By bringing the power of the cloud to Canada and providing free access through BizSpark, our entrepreneurs can truly compete with the best in the world.”

Canada’s Cloud Wasn’t Always Celebrated

Although this is a significant step forward for both cities, Canada has often been blasted for its lack of a dependable and efficient cloud infrastructure. Forbes ran an article in 2012 entitled “The Sorry State of Cloud Computing in Canada,” in which the author highlighted three key problems the country faces: duopolies, bandwidth caps and lacklustre connections.

Robert Hart, Founder of the Canadian Cloud Council, spoke to the publication and said that he would be encouraging a “cloud first” policy in order to expand “an open, democratized and collaborative Canadian Cloud ecosystem.”

Not only has the cloud ecosystem been mediocre at best, it has also been reported that there’s a paucity of knowledge regarding cloud computing. The Financial Post noted in 2013 that two-thirds of non-public users lack the expertise to fully utilize the cloud, though most businesses cite improved IT strategies due to the cloud.

Despite limited cloud skills, businesses are embracing the technology, says Robert Mahowald, program vice-president at IDC SaaS & Cloud Software research practice, in an interview with the newspaper.

“IT buyers are shifting steadily toward cloud-also and cloud-first strategies and nearly all are reconsidering their IT best practices to embrace hybrid cloud construction and operations, secure data management, end-to-end governance, updated IT skills, and improved multi-vendor sourcing.”

With cloud computing soaring in triple digits by each quarter, the cloud is here to stay.

Also, check out this report on why cloud computing should be an integral part of the IT landscape

Photo via Microsoft

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Andrew Moran

Andrew Moran is a full-time professional writer and journalist, who covers the areas of business, economics and personal finance. He has contributed to Benzinga, Capital Liberty News, Career Addict, Money Morning and PFHub.
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