Hey Canada, it is time to embrace cloud!

DrStrangelove060PyxurzSeveral years ago I gave a short talk at the Canadian Cloud Council conference in beautiful Banff on how Canada can accelerate cloud adoption: how can borders & barriers be removed and what is your #1 recommendation for cloud for Canada?

I proposed that the cCc should make an educational film for Canadians entitled:

“Dr. StrangeCloud, or: how I learned to stop worrying and love the cloud”.

It has been almost 10 years since Amazon opened up a the tickle trunk for IT called Amazon Web Services (AWS – think lego for computer geeks) that started us down the journey of being able to right-size our infrastructure investment, enabling just-in-time (JIT) delivery of IT services. This is an incredibly exciting time. We are living the Cambrian explosion of IT. But while there is a very rich ecosystem in the US and even globally, Canada has been anemic. 

What’s in this movie? It is the story of how cloud computing is democratizing IT – with the emergence of a free market of on-demand services so we don’t have to wait in line for our loaf of bread or go hungry when we can’t afford a whole loaf (some enterprises charge take months to deliver and charge $2000/mo per virtual machine). The incumbent vendors and traditional IT empire builders are “sleeping with one eye open, gripping their pillow tight” (you know who you are) while shadow IT slowly transforms organizations from the inside out.

Cloud computing is a big change for IT folk:

  • Cloud computing features APIs everywhere, we are living in a multi-cloud world where services are programatically composed like lego blocks to create amazing solutions.
  • Cloud computing will be open (both as in freely available and as in based on open source technology such as CloudStack and OpenStack, Hadoop and Cassandra) but most IT is still based on proprietary platforms today.
  • Cloud computing is about service levels, not boxes with brand names.
  • Cloud computing treats servers like cattle, not pets.
  • Cloud computing is an operating model, not technology. In fact it leverages pre-existing commodity technology components.
  • Cloud computing is a change in the way we work (i.e. DevOps) and we need to adapt!

Borders and Barriers

So what’s getting in the way of Canada embracing cloud? The great author Phillip K Dick wrote much about how perception shapes reality. How do we lower barriers to cloud adoption? Jim Love challenged everyone at the conference: “Canada needs to get real”. Lets just say Canada needs to shift perception and to do that, we need education not vendor cloud washing. Barriers other than cloud washing include “IT castle builders”, data sovereignty confusion, lack of investment, incumbent vendors, and a culture that is slow to adopt IT innovation. Many of these issues were covered in our recent blog post.

The solution is Leadership

Canada needs to help cloud computing achieve escape velocity. I believe a role of government is to recognize the strategic importance of an industry, that they should build a strategy that will foster an ecosystem.

My number one concern right now is the telecom oligopoly. Data has gravity. The cost and performance of your connectivity affects the distance and curvature of data’s space-time. The cost of both mobile and terrestrial bandwidth is multiples of what it is south of the border. If the cost of getting to the service is higher than the service itself, we will greatly slow adoption of transformative services. You can’t use cloud backup services when you have a 1TB hard drive but have a 20GB bandwidth cap. Netflix automatically lowers resolution to Canadian customers, leading to a poorer quality experience, because of those same caps.

I think affordable internet and access to cloud services should be a universal right. The benefits accrue to everyone. It is perhaps strange to say this but our utility companies are holding back our adoption of utility services.

We would all benefit from Canadian businesses and government being more agile. We know that “cloud” can help us by pooling resources, improving time to market, lowering IT risk, improving collaboration etc… Getting more done, faster, from anywhere and reserving the right to effect change, whenever you need to adapt. That sounds like it is worth embracing.