Data Hosting in Canada: Why the Great White North has one of the World’s Leading Data Centre Markets
Posted on December 17th, 2012
White papers and data centre guides usually focus on the United States as a major player in the data centre industry. Undeniably, US data centres are among the most advanced facilities in the world. However, the States are not the only major location to pay attention to. Canada as another North American country has a lot to offer when it comes to data centre hosting and colocation. This article talks about Canada as a one of the most vastly developing, international hubs for server hosting and colocation. The following paragraphs serve as a rough overview of data storage in Canada and highlight competitive advantages in comparison to the country’s southern and western neighbours.
Natural disasters such as recent Hurricane Sandy remind us that even the most equipped and modern hardware facilities might not be 100% protected from super storms and other severe weather conditions. Just to name an example, after a well-known web host proudly announced that the company’s data centre storage system would resist the hurricane in October this year, flooding took down their data centre in New York leaving customers taken aback.*
Although clients can not prevent natural disasters from happening, they can choose a location that is comparatively calm as far as the climate is concerned. In this regard, Canada is an excellent choice. “Canada is safe from most natural disasters […] citing a recent conversation with a Florida business concerned about hurricanes.” ** Furthermore, the climate in many Canadian provinces is cool on average, which facilitates state-of-the-art data centre cooling systems that utilize air from outside. The access to inexpensive cooling gives Canadian data centres a major cost advantage compared to southern countries.
Next to the regional climate, the policy on data security and data hosting in a respective country is another important point of consideration. To name an example, the USA Patriot Act is a significant law that distinguishes the US from Canada when it comes to data security. Bypassed in the aftermath of the events of 9/11, the law is designed to control the relatively free flow of virtual information not only for US companies but their foreign partners and clients.
“One of the controversial measures was that officials were granted the power to issue a National Security Letter to electronic communication service providers requiring them to hand over information without informing the affected parties.” *** Utilizing cloud computing in the US, companies fear that their data are stored on US ground as subject of the USA Patriot Act. As a response, experts argue that “many Canadian and European companies are quietly moving their data, often to Canadian data centres.”** Generally, experts argue that there is a high reputation of safety on Canada, making it an attractive data centre location.
One major, if not the most important critical factor for data storage, is the power infrastructure surrounding the respective data centre. When it comes to electric power and renewable energy sources, Canada has made strong incentive for taking advantage of our natural and renewable energy sources:
“Canada’s electric power industry has been one of the mainstays of Canada’s economy, providing low-cost power to residences and businesses […]The electricity sector is expected to invest $293.8 billion from 2010 to 2030 to maintain existing assets and meet market growth […] Canadians enjoy some of the lowest energy prices among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries […] and rely mostly on renewable or low-emission energy sources.” ****
Another point of consideration when choosing a location for data storage services is the urban infrastructure surrounding the provider of choice. The availability of routes, roads, and airports might be a crucial factor. Especially with regard to colocation services, easy access to the colocation site is crucial.
With Vancouver in the west, Montreal in the east and Toronto in the south-east of the country, just to name a few, Canada offers powerful metropolitan data-centre hubs.
Choosing the perfect location for a company’s data storage is involves many factors and criteria that might differ from business to business. Nevertheless, Canada is evolving as one of the leading data centre locations in the world. “Canada has a wealth of relatively cheap electricity, inexpensive cooling thanks to the weather, competitive corporate tax rates, and political stability” *****Thus, the nation offers crucial advantages over other locations such as a naturally cold climate, lucrative data security policies, an excellent power infrastructure, and powerful urban areas. As a result “international customers make up about 60 per cent of the customer base in Canada.” *****
* Bort, J. (2012) New York Data Centers Bragged On Twitter Before Hurricane Sandy Took Them Down. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/new-york-data-centers-peer-1-hosting-internap-tweets-2012-10
** Harvey, I. (2010) The poor economy isn’t stopping Canada from becoming the world’s data centre. Retrieved from http://www.backbonemag.com/Magazine/2010-04/canada-worlds-data-center.aspx
*** Banks, T. (2012) Cloud Compting and the USA Patriot Act: Canadian Implications. Retrieved from http://www.datagovernancelaw.com/cloud-computing-and-the-usa-patriot-act-canadian-implications
**** The Conference Board of Canada (2011). Canada’s Electricity Infrastructure: Building a Case for Investment. Retrieved from http://www.electricity.ca/media/Know%20Your%20Power%20Stuff/11-257_ElectricityInfrastructure%5B1%5D.pdf
***** Ladurantaye, S. (2011) Canada called prime real estate for massive data computers. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/canada-called-prime-real-estate-for-massive-data-computers/article584163/