In certain sectors, a Canadian cloud data centre is now a de facto requirement, especially in the public sector, health care and financial services, because while it may not be a regulatory requirement, it has become mandatory in many RFPs.
Founded in 1983, Dimension Data has its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, and since 2010 was been owned by NTT in Japan. It opened its Canadian operation seven years ago, and built up their business here on the back of its more traditional on-prem offerings like Cisco-based unified communications. The company got into the cloud through a pair of acquisitions in the U.S. and Australia in 2011, which together became their cloud business unit. While Dimension Data has been building clouds for its customers in Canada since then, its cloud business in Canada was comparatively more limited compared to its cloud presence in other regions. That has begun to change more recently, however.
“Our cloud business in Canada has been growing significantly the last couple of years,” said Greg Walker, Business Development Manager, Cloud, Dimension Data Canada. While their Canadian client base includes global multinationals who have operations in Canada, and enterprise clients, particularly in banking, oil and gas, their strongest cloud opportunity in Canada is in the midmarket.
“That’s where we see the big early adoption, is in the midmarket and SME space,” Walker said. “Larger enterprises do things in the cloud, but in smaller bites.”
Walker said that many of their global customers had not been demanding a Canadian cloud data centre, since Dimension Data operates in 58 countries, so they had cloud access somewhere if they needed it.
“It all depends on the vertical,” Walker said. “In some sectors like resource, where they have operations all around the world anyway, they don’t care. But in certain sectors it’s now a mandatory requirement, especially in the public sector, health care and financial services. It may not be a regulatory requirement, but it’s now mandatory in many RFPs. In addition, while we have customers who were OK with what we had, there is still a comfort feel from having a centre here. There are also latency issues that can be resolved with better application performance from being closer to a Toronto data centre.”
Walker said that the opening of the Canadian centre was dictated by global prioritization of the markets in which the company decided to set up data centres. However, last year, in March, they got a commitment from their global cloud business unit to open here, and their customers have known about this for some time.
The new Managed Cloud Platform has been built on Cisco, EMC and VMware architecture to provide multiple layers of security and administrative controls to users. Like all Dimension Data MCPs, they offer 99.99% availability Service Level Agreements (SLAs), as well as 24/7 phone support and integrated management capabilities.
“With all the breaches in the news, we have discussions with customers to make sure they understand the risks and the controls we put in place, and how we separate and isolate customers in a multi-tenant environment,” Walker said. “This is our business and we’ve been thinking about security from day one, unlike the average IT environment. We make the case that the data is more secure in our cloud than inside an organization’s own four walls. Our cloud has been built for the enterprise.”
“All of the hype around cloud is centred on the public cloud and that’s one of the things we are announcing, but we are also announcing private cloud capabilities,” he said. “With most VARs, private cloud means still selling servers, storage, switches and professional services. We have a different set of offerings, where the public and private have the same architecture. The customer isn’t buying capital infrastructure, but paying a fee for the consumption of resources in a private cloud, on an OPEX model.”
Last May, Dimension Data announced plans for an MCP in New Zealand, which is expected to launch later this year. Other Dimension Data MCP locations are: Santa Clara, California and Ashburn, Virginia, U.S.; London, U.K.; Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Sydney and Melbourne, Australia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Tokyo, Japan; Hong Kong, China and Sao Paulo, Brazil.