AWS Entering Canada, Launching Montreal Region Later This Year

Amazon Web Services offered a big bonjour to its partners north of the border Wednesday, surprising them with news that later this year it will introduce its first cloud data centers in Canada.

The coming Montreal region will be made up of clean facilities -- carbon-neutral and powered almost exclusively by renewable hydro-electric power, said Jeff Barr, chief evangelist for AWS, in a blog post.

"As always, we are looking forward to serving new and existing Canadian customers and to working with partners in the area," Barr blogged. "Of course, the new region will also be open to existing AWS customers who would like to process and store data in Canada."

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The Montreal region marks the first extension of the industry-leading cloud onto Canadian soil.

AWS will not divulge how big the region's footprint will be, or how many data centers it will encompass. But it's worth noting that Andy Jassy, senior vice president of AWS, said at the last re:Invent conference that the cloud provider never builds just a single data center.

Barr's blog, in English and in French, put the new region in the context of a major global expansion.

The cloud provider's global infrastructure spans 12 geographic regions, with five more to come online in 2016: Canada, China, India, the U.K. and Ohio.

While AWS has four North American regions -- not counting the one in the works for Ohio -- locating physical infrastructure north of the border makes a world of difference to Canadian partners.

Jarrod Levitan, chief cloud officer at TriNimbus, one of the largest AWS partners based in Canada, told CRN that his company was "knocking on [Amazon's] door harder than anyone else" to encourage the launch of a Canadian region.

"Today we got the news," Levitan said. "This is very amazing news. There's a massive amount of potential for AWS in Canada."

The Montreal region will certainly drive new business to TriNimbus, which has its headquarters in Vancouver, British Columbina, and a large office in Toronto, Levitan told CRN.

"The biggest reason is a lot of inertia in the marketplace around data residency, and companies are fighting to keep their data in Canada for various reasons," he said. There's a lot of sensitivity to where data resides, according to Levitan -- not only in the public sector, but also in industries such as financial services and health care.

Some Canadian organizations are using the lack of in-country infrastructure as an excuse to resist change through embracing cloud, Levitan said. Still others have real regulatory concerns.

For both cases, the Montreal region will remove one objection standing in the way of cloud migration, he told CRN.