Try saying “cloud computing in Canada” five times fast. It’s no “Peter Piper,” but it’s difficult enough that you might find yourself forced to slow down. That’s okay, though— much like deploying cloud computing, it gets a lot smoother with practice. 

According to market research firm IDC, the momentum for using software or hardware that is hosted online has become so strong that it recently forecast an 11 per cent shift of budget dollars in Canada toward cloud technologies by 2016. As the Financial Post reported recently, firms in Canada have evolved from using cloud computing as a necessary cost-cutting measure to taking a “cloud-first” approach to technology projects in some cases. The bottom line: Cloud computing has become an accepted approach to solving a wide range of business problems and helping with the many opportunities.

All Clouds Big and Small

The ongoing challenge for some business owners, large and small, is that “cloud computing” can still seem like a relative term with an endless number of variations.

Here’s what you need to know to clear the fog around cloud computing:

  • Software-as-a-service (SaaS) offers many firms the option of paying for applications as they need them, rather than spending on a package they have to install, maintain and upgrade. IDC forecasts SaaS to grow to a $1.3 billion business in Canada by next year, with Salesforce as the top vendor. 
  • Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) means businesses can have third-party organizations manage the servers and other equipment that runs software in a similar fashion. There has been an explosion of service providers bringing this locally to Canadian companies of all sizes in the past three years.
  • Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) allows organizations to get a mix of both software and hardware cloud computing services in a single package or via one provider. It means a business can hand off configuration, maintenance and a number of other chores. Along with SaaS and IaaS, Technavio has said cloud computing in Canada will grow by 17 per cent a year between now and 2018.

Signs of Maturity

Beyond all the money Canadian companies are spending on cloud computing, there is also a significant impact on the skills and opportunities for the Canadian labour force. In a report prepared by the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), more than 57,000 people are expected to be employed in Canada via what it calls the “cloud economy.”

Many of those people are beginning to collaborate well outside their office walls, forming  local industry groups such as the Canadian Cloud Council, which hosts the Cloud Factory conference, and the Canadian Cloud Network, which offers similar opportunities to share best practices and build a professional network to support cloud efforts. All this points to greater understanding of what cloud computing can do for businesses and maturity in the right approaches.

The bottom line for cloud computing in Canada is the way it can free up businesses to focus on what they do best, rather than struggle with technology issues. For more on how cloud computing can help take your business to new heights, download the free eBook, The Salesforce Advantage.