I mean, isn’t this what they do for a living?  For those of you not familiar with their business model, I suggest watching Matt Damon explain why he “shouldn’t work for the NSA” in his very first film "Good Will Hunting." He should have won the Oscar.  

At any rate, perception is reality and it must be harder and harder for U.S.-based public cloud companies to convince Canadian customers that the economics of U.S. cloud supposedly outweigh the need to be cautious with their customer data. The biggest Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) company in the world, Salesforce, recently announced their plans to establish Canadian data center operations. Maybe we aren’t as small of a market as we think we are. Or, maybe they are on to something bigger than just selling Canadian resident cloud services to Canadians.  

"The cloud dramatically improves and accelerates the way companies develop, monetize and commercialize innovation, engage with their customers, and differentiate against their competition."

Intellectual property in Canada 

Businesses view their data as intellectual property. So how many Canadian CIOs are going to sign off on the potential fire sale of their company’s core asset? We were already a risk-adverse bunch before Snowden bought a one-way ticket to Russia and every Canadian CEO started asking questions about cloud computing and where their company’s data is hosted. Ironically, the cloud conversation finally started at the top level of every Canadian company, even if it was for all the wrong reasons.

SEE MORE: How You Can Keep Your Company’s Data Safe and Accessible
 

Why should the Canadian CEO be the person most invested in the whole cloud computing discussion?  For starters, the cloud dramatically improves and accelerates the way companies develop, monetize and commercialize innovation, engage with their customers and differentiate against their competition.  Tech startups with a fantastic idea can strive to become the next Mark Zuckberg acquisition overnight and access the necessary infrastructure to support that growth with a click of the mouse.  Although, that scale comes with a tradeoff, and it hasn’t been good for the Canadian enterprise.

“Traditionally, any business in Canada who wants to control their data and have access to an enterprise cloud has to build it from the ground up. It is complex, expensive, time consuming and challenging to operate and maintain,” said Matthew McKinney, Chief Strategy Officer at Auro. “More importantly, because of the apparent non-existence of true enterprise public clouds in Canada, many Canadian enterprises have been forced to choose traditional infrastructure to ensure protection of their data, while competitors South of the border eat our lunch with immediate access to highly scalable, on-demand, and elastic cloud services.”

The new software ecosystem

So, then, Edward Snowden may have shed light on a program that has been accused of possibly “killing the U.S. internet industry” (it won’t), but I suggest we leverage Edward’s clean conscience as an opportunity to finally start building a viable Canadian cloud ecosystem.  One that can compete with the Amazons of the world, not just because it is built across Canadian data centers, but one that can compete globally on its own uniqueness and merit.  

"Canada is one of the most stable countries and economies in the world, known for our peace keeping internationally — it is the best place in the world for the world’s data, not just Canadian data."

There is an incredible software ecosystem brewing in Canada, and wouldn’t it be fantastic for the Canadian economy if companies like Hootsuite, OpenText and Shopify actually built their businesses using Canadian cloud infrastructure? Or, if more big U.S. internet companies followed Salesforce into Canada to offer Canadian hosted “data safe zones” to their customers?  This is not something that will fragment the global internet, but rather diversify its core network operations outside of the United States, and make it harder for pesky three-letter acronym agencies to gain access to customer data.  This would be a good thing for everyone, not just Canadians. 

SEE MORE3 Components of a Secure Canadian Cloud
 

“Salesforce is on to something here “ says Chris Moore, former CIO at the City of Edmonton. “Canada is one of the most stable countries and economies in the world, known for our peace keeping internationally — it is the best place in the world for the world’s data, not just Canadian data. If anyone in the world is concerned about the USA PATRIOT Act, then consider moving your data from the U.S. to Canada.”

So, Ryan Holmes or Tony Clement, if you’re listening, give me a shout. Canadian innovators and investors have been busy over the last year and there are finally enterprise class Canadian resident public cloud services available to Canadian businesses. What we need is a big Canadian software company or governmental agency to actually use them and shout their story from their rooftops of our country’s incredibly awesome data centers. There is a jet leaving Moscow at this very moment. Edward Snowden is falling asleep in the back. Let’s not get stuck on the tarmac.