Financial Post: IT has head in the clouds

(12-Dec-2011) Canada’s government must migrate its multibillion-dollar computing hardware to the cloud, the country’s largest technology industry group warns, or risk becoming “technologically incapacitated.

Ottawa spends between $2-billion and $5-billion on technology each year, various estimates say. The creation of a new federal department called Shared Services Canada – which has amassed more than 5,000 staff since its formation in August – aims to reduce that figure, though Dave MacDonald says Ottawa should think bigger.

“The government has got 300 different data centres, 100 separate email systems and these are all aging infrastructures,” said the chief executive of Softchoice Corp., who also chairs the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC) board of governors.

Ottawa has admitted those IT redundancies are “inefficient and wasteful,” which is why Shared Services has been mandated to reduce the total number of government data centres to 20 and consolidate email into a single system. Expected to save taxpayers between $100-million and $200-million annually, the initiative avoids the growing danger posed by continuing to use antiquated equipment, Mr. MacDonald said.

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