They are finally here! The two Microsoft Canada data centres are officially open for business and according to Jean Cheng, director of cloud computing and Public Sector for Microsoft Canada, they are data centres unlike any other in the world. The Toronto and Quebec data centres are software-defined with a mirrored configuration that is highly optimized.
Channel partners now have the ability to offer Azure and Office 365 through these two data centres with Dynamics CRM coming sometime in September of this year.
“This is a far more consistent approach. You can appreciate this over traditional data centres, which depend on infrastructure and hardware. These data centres are highly software-defined, modular and both the Toronto and Quebec facilities are similar in the sense that they are a reflection of the global footprint Microsoft has put in place,” Cheng said.
The Toronto and Quebec data centres are slightly smaller and lay out differently than other data centres. For example, Cheng said instead of aisles of storage, SANs, and compute with networking, switching and firewall; the Microsoft data centres has just one aisle and all the compute, storage, networking, and switching is integrated.
“It’s a real ah-ha moment for savvy data centre people. Once the channel sees these two data centres they will understand the differences between outsourcing and cloud,” he said.
The two data centres are part of $15 billion investment that solves one of the biggest issues for Microsoft and its Canadian channel partners when it comes to cloud and that data sovereignty.
“The data is resident in Canada and that is a big confidence builder for the channel and for customers. It eliminates all the political and legislative barriers for customers and now they have the ability to take advantage of all the cloud services,” Cheng said.
Dave MacDonald, president and CEO of CDN Top 100 solution provider Softchoice, said he welcomes the opening of these two new data centres in Canada as it will bring a complete cloud offering with data residency, IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and hybrid solutions.
Softchoice has readied itself with a staff of licensing and pre-sales consultants for the cloud. They have also developed specific offerings for the Microsoft stack such as Azure TechCheck and the Keystone Managed Services for Microsoft Cloud.
Another CDN Top 100 Solution Provider ProServeIT of Mississauga, Ont. plans to leverage the two data centres by providing a full service cloud for data residency and protection. ProServeIT president Eric Sugar said these two data centres is a “watershed moment for the cloud in Canada”. With these two facilities in place his company can now provide scalability and protection of the public cloud along with cloud assessment and migration road maps for customers.
Cheng added that the channel opportunity with these two data centres can provide the partner ecosystem with the ability to earn multiple times more dollars for every dollar spent with Microsoft Azure and Office 365.
“This is enabling a new ecosystem of partners in the Canadian marketplace and it also puts to rest all the political and legislative issues. We expect the partner community to benefit greatly from this new model along with other entrepreneurs, start-ups and commercial organizations,” Cheng said.
Also part of this announcement is a partnership with Bell Business Markets that will see the service provider offer Azure ExpressRoute. Customers of Bell can now access Azure, Office 365 and Dynamics CRM Online through the Bell Cloud Connect broadband service.
One of the strategies Microsoft Canada deployed with these two facilities is to put them close to highly populated areas and financial centres. “The majority of the population is here and there are also some networking infrastructure issues in Western Canada and that will be helped by the Bell ExpressRoute partnership,” Cheng said.
The Azure ExpressRoute provides customers with an opportunity to connect virtually direct to the facility in a secure way, Cheng said. “It’s the equivalent of an HOV lane.”