The Voice of Technology
Development and Innovation I remember the day and time precisely. April 7, 2014. 11:17 AM. Banff, Alberta. We were several minutes into the most explosive technology discussion the Canadian Cloud Council has ever staged — something modestly called “The Edward Snowden Apocalypse.”
“Passed to hand behind the curtain the letter brings change and now things are uncertain. Hand to hand the letter moves on like a series of shocks but the contents are known.”
– Wire, Another The Letter
Sir Timothy Grayson, who astonishingly at the time was working as a public servant, had just called Citizen Four a “thief, traitor and scoundrel”. Now, Timothy had promised before the event to turn the dialogue up from “ten to eleven”, but it seemed the audience had not seen Spinal Tap. A fellow in the back exploded in anger, sparking a round of boos and applause in equal measure.
The only viable business model
Over the last eight years, as we’ve sat in apathetic silence watching our government build an empire of ants and roll out totalitarian digital polices to control and fragment the internet, something profound occurred to me.
“Cloud computing is no longer a relevant discussion. The creation of open, societal changing, value differentiating and monetizable technology is.”
I have spent the last three years of my life building an organization whose sole purpose was to accelerate the rate of cloud adoption in Canada. But the identification of cloud computing, probably the biggest hyped business term of all time, is now a meaningless process. There is no longer any other type of viable computing and no other type of viable business model. The Canadian Cloud Council may as well change their name to the Canadian Business Council.
I read an article the other day about how a CIO should try and “sell” the concept of cloud computing to their CEO. If their CEO does not understand the concept already, they shouldn’t be the CEO. On the same point, the Government of Canada needs to understand the importance of supporting an open and democratized internet. Building a private, government controlled “shared services” computing infrastructure when this infrastructure already exists in the private sector is like building a government controlled hotel chain for government employees. It adds zero business value, is a waste of taxpayer dollars and takes away from much more purposeful discussions that anyone outside of IT might actually care about.
On April 7, 2014 at 11:17 AM, amongst the great Edward Snowden debate, I realized that Canadians, as apathetic, risk-adverse and asleep at the wheel as they can be, actually have it in them to get pissed off about something if the topic of discussion is actually worth getting pissed off about. Were Edward Snowden’s revelations manufactured by the NSA to spark investment in the United States tech sector and create companies that would give the illusion of a safer and more private internet? Did these same revelations also open up opportunities for non-U.S. companies to build data safe havens that may eventually be acquired by U.S. cloud giants like Google and Amazon anyways and expand their market share? Is the fear of the big bad NSA actually disabling or enabling the economy? Is the age of privacy dead and buried, and is there anything anyone can do to bring it back?
I think if we look at Google and Facebook’s market cap projections and are all honest with ourselves, we know the answers to these questions. The letter has been written, it is being passed from hand to hand and we all pretend to be in shock when we already know the contents.
It is time to take “cloud computing” discussions outside of the data center, above the CIO and Shared Services Canada, and to the CEO and Prime Minister. Cloud computing is no longer a relevant discussion. The creation of open, societal changing, value differentiating and monetizable technology is.
On December 1, Robert Brennan Hart launched the successor to the Canadian Cloud Council — Politik — a global media organization focused on chaos, disruption, and movement in the world of technology. Politik’s “Interzone” will be held in Banff in March 2015 and Los Angeles in October 2015. Robert Herjavec is a featured keynote at Interzone.