Cloud Computing for the BC Public Sector is Open for Business
Cologix has just enabled secure, sovereign network access to the cloud for the BC public sector with their announcement of AWS Direct Connect from their downtown Vancouver location.
Over 2,900 BC public bodies have been unable to leverage cloud computing due to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which regulates how personal information is stored and accessed. Section 30.1 of the Act states:
“A public body must ensure that personal information in its custody or under its control is stored only in Canada and accessed only in Canada.”
Public bodies could seek consent from everybody to store their data outside of Canada, but this is onerous. Most public bodies do not separate their applications based on the presence of personal information, as it has never been important for on-premise or Canadian data centres. FoIPPA has been the single greatest barrier to the adoption of Public Cloud in BC and is something that even the CloudBC initiative was unable to solve.
This single sentence also requires that all network access remains in Canada, which has been a far more difficult problem to solve due to the lakes that sprinkle our southern border which has forced redundant paths through US soil. Encrypted network traffic, even traffic encrypted with keys controlled by the end-customer (customer-managed keys) — a scenario fully supported by AWS — is also deemed insufficient. You’d have thought that encrypted data is no longer “personal information”, as it’s just 1s and 0s, but the consensus is that it’s still personal information.
So we’ve had some enormous challenges … until last week.
BC public bodies can now connect to AWS’ Canadian Region (CA-CENTRAL-1) via a fully-redundant, sovereign network route.
However, private companies not bound by FoIPPA will be better served by heading down the west coast to US-WEST-2, and connecting through a Direct Connect provider in Seattle or Oregon. There are more services available in the US vs. Canada and the roundtrip latency will be ~20ms vs. ~80ms.
All customers should also remember that web and media-streaming traffic can be delivered globally, and very efficiently, through Amazon CloudFront, AWS’ global Content Delivery Network, which provides nearly 100 edge locations around the world.