US cloud giants are ready to capitalize on a Canadian up-curve

The opportunity north of the border could be a lucrative one in the next few years.
14 February 2020

Google Sidewalk Labs in Toronto. Source: Shutterstock

Canada is the “next frontier” for America’s cloud giants as the rivalry between the industry’s big four rumbles on. 

The move to cloud has become an inevitable requirement of digital transformation. Providing software and data storage as a service, it can massively save costs, enhance capabilities and lets operations run on the internet. It has and continues to be a game-changing technology across industries, and has well-lined the coffers of its overwatch in Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM.

The next move on the board lies north of the border. As reported by Financial Post, Canada’s public cloud services market is set to grow from US$6 billion in 2019 to over US$10 billion in 2023 according to the IDC. 

By 2024, 50 percent of Canadian enterprises will be hosted on hybrid and multi-cloud platforms. The country hasn’t been as quick to transition to the technology, however, as both public and private enterprises in Canada have prioritized security first. 

But, undeterred, cloud tech giants are now recruiting cloud experts in their hundreds in the country and ready to expand quickly to capitalize on the growing market. 

Microsoft Canada’s president, Kevin Peesker, said the nation was in a “tsunami of cloud”, noting that cloud adoption in Canada has passed a tipping point — its intensity has escalated and is dramatically higher than it was a decade ago. 

Tech giant IBM was the first to bring a cloud presence to Canada in 2012 by investing US$90 million to install a data center in Ontario. Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft set up their respective centers a few years after. 

Despite major industrial players setting roots down in Canada many years ago, the country has been slow in embracing the technology. Peesker said the ingrained desire to learn about cloud technology and its extensive privacy reviews may have placed a speed limit on the adoption rate. 

“The movement was a little bit slower than other countries, but we are rapidly picking up the pace,” he said.

Also commenting on the landscape of cloud in Canada, Google’s CFO, Ruth Porat, noted that Canada’s cloud market is still in a nascent stage, but there is massive potential. Once the market matures, especially in both risk management and security protocols, an increase in cloud migration will be seen. 

The country is now thought to be on the upswing: cloud companies see huge opportunities in this untapped market, such as in banking and the public sector.  

Insiders believe cloud technology will provide Canada the extra boost needed to strengthen its economy and rank it up among the leading tech nations. 

“No matter where you are in Canada’s economy — whether you’re in oil and gas, whether you’re a startup, whether you’re in retail — there is no more ‘Hey, I’m not in tech.’ You’re either on the cloud or you’re not,” said Frank Attaie, Vice President of cloud and software sales at IBM Canada. 

TechHQ recently covered a rise in tech recruitment in Canada, as more than half (54 percent) of IT leaders plan to expand their teams in the first six months of 2020. The country is implementing various approaches to attract and retain candidates skilled in the cloud, AI, and cybersecurity.