TORONTO — Google is building its first cloud region in Canada, which it says will allow businesses to keep sensitive data within the country while also speeding up services like machine learning that helps better analyze information.
Located in Montreal, the first Canadian Google Cloud Platform Region was announced during a keynote Thursday at the company’s Google Cloud Next ’17 conference in San Francisco. The new region now lets customers such as large corporations move large amounts of information to online storage without having to leave Canadian borders like in the past with Google Cloud.
“Quebec is at the forefront of innovation in Canada,” said Philippe Couillard, the province’s premier, in a statement. “Today we are happy to welcome the addition of the Google Cloud Region in Montreal with which Quebec-based business and Canada will take another step into a 21st century economy.”
Google said its main competitive advantage with Google Cloud’s offerings is that as large enterprise customers want to move digital, it will not just store the information but also provide its algorithms to make more sense of the data.
“Google’s approach is that you worry about the questions, you worry about the insight you want to gain from that data, and let us worry about how to get you those answers as fast as possible,” said Toronto-based Jim Lambe, head of Google Cloud in Canada, in an interview. “So people like data analysts don’t have to worry about anything anymore other than, ‘What kind of insight do I have to get from this pile of data?’”
While Google Cloud services have already been available in Canada, having a local region means organizations that deal with sensitive data or are heavily regulated — such as financial institutions or the health care sector — are more comfortable and able to use online storage. However, new region is expected to be a welcomed addition by many Canadian customers.
“Canadians always love to know that their data is still on this soil, especially as there is legislation in the U.S. that allows the government to go into data centres under the Patriot Act,” said Roland Gossage, chief executive of the Toronto-based e-commerce provider GroupBy Inc., in an interview. GroupBy’s clients include banks, telecoms like Telus and retailers such as Urban Outfitters or Cabela’s.
“Some have applications that run on the other side of the border, but there is always the preference to have on-soil data centres.”
Aside from security, having a Google Cloud region in Canada also means faster speeds when it comes to running the analytics, machine learning and accessing the data because of the server’s closer proximity to clients, said Gossage.
“Running in multiple jurisdictions was also important to us as our clients have the largest retailers in the world, so if our sites go down for an hour there are millions of dollars of lost revenue,” he said. “We have more than one data centre the data sits in, and if one were to have a power outage on the eastern seaboard then our clients wouldn’t see any disruption because it automatically switches to another data centre within Google’s infrastructure.”
Though Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp has already offered cloud storage options in Canada, Google reiterates that what sets its services apart from others is the ability to gain insight from the large amounts of data being stored through machine learning and artificial intelligence.
“This is a great enabler for the small tech industry in Canada… and be able to create many more tech unicorns in Canada over the next three to five years,” said Lambe.
“Disruption is not a buzzword anymore. Disruption is real… Our retailers, whether they like it or not, are under fire from other international organizations, but data is their intellectual property and we are going to give them the ability to make the most of their data.”