Canada plans to close more than 90% of government datacenters

Canada plans to close more than 90% of government datacenters

Summary: With more than 100 different email systems and 3000 overlapping network installations, the Canadian governement takes a stab at saving money by planning to close almost all of their datacenters.

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With a plan to reduce the total number of governmental datacenters from 300 to only 20, Canada's plan seems far more radical than the US plan to reduce from more than 2000 datacenters to 800.  But Canada's consolidation plan, which moves IT services into a new agency called Shared Services Canada looks to save money strictly through consolidation, with no new technology spending, on facilities, equipment, or personnel.

With only 11% of the population of the US, the Canadian government's yearly IT budget of approximately $5,000,000,000 still doesn't seem like much given the large geographic area and the need to provide government services in many remote rural areas. They expect the consolidation to reduce the budget no more than $200 million each year, so it would seem that the datacenters haven't been all that expensive to operate, especially when you get to the root of the matter.

That root problem seems to be not to be so much the actual datacenters, but the ongoing costs of supporting over 100 different email installations.  The government is currently running all of these mail systems as separate entities, with about 5% of the employees using Novell GroupWise, 15% using Lotus Notes, and the remaining 80% on versions of Microsoft Outlook, presumably with Exchange back ends. The current plan is to consolidate those 100 plus email networks into a single email solution, which should see major savings in the cost of licensing and end-user support. Additional savings are hoped to be found by consolidating some of the more than 3000 overlapping governmental network installations, as well. 

From the information provided it seems that the Canadian government suffers from an oversized version of the rapid growth in PC-based networking experienced by US businesses in the 1990's, where every department decided it wanted, and needed , its own network and software solutions.  It's only taken another two decades, but it seems that Canada is catching up with the times.

Topics: Data Centers, Government, IBM, Microsoft, Networking, PCs

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9 comments
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  • We'll see how well it works

    I'm skeptical of over-centralization because it puts extra distance between computer specialists and end users, making it less likely that the latter will actually get what they need in a timely fashion.

    Am I correct that Shared Services Canada will be directly under the Prime Minister's office?
    John L. Ries
    • RE: Canada plans to close more than 90% of government datacenters

      @John L. Ries I read that it'll fall under the umbrella of Public Works and Government Services Canada.
      MikeR666
      • RE: Canada plans to close more than 90% of government datacenters

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  • RE: Canada plans to close more than 90% of government datacenters

    Logic would tell you that consolidation without any new spending on new technology, on facilities, equipment, or personnel is impossible. Clearly the 300 existing facilities would have some (or all) of their equipment which would need to move to one of the 20 datacenters. Unless these datacenters were sized to house this additional equipment and staffed to support it, additional spending will be required.
    hjunk
  • RE: Canada plans to close more than 90% of government datacenters

    With increased consolidation also comes the increased risk of having a single point of failure, or in the case of a country, single point of weakness for someone looking to infiltrate or compromise.

    I had thought the birth of the Internet was based on the military concept that we needed to get away from that type of thinking, designing systems that could continue to operate even if one link was taken out. As Amazon's European data centre outage indicates: the benefits of a "cloud" solution are diluted if it becomes too focused on one location, one system.
    Biz-Zone
    • RE: Canada plans to close more than 90% of government datacenters

      @Biz-Zone Yes, the idea of the "cloud" should focus on the end goals, specifically the ability to transparently access files and information regardless of location or device. Unfortunately, too much of the conversation about the "cloud" is obsessed with one specific implementation approach, centralized servers, driven to a large extent by those who have a vested interest in promoting centralized solutions.
      ScottTaylorMCPD
  • RE: Canada plans to close more than 90% of government datacenters

    Just so long as they do not settle on the dreaded Lotus Notes!
    PercySludge
  • There's no logic in this government, tho'

    Canada's present federal government could care less about facts, logic, or even fiscal responsibility. With no budget to do so, there's no way all these systems can be consolidated. Their real aim with this decision will come out eventually.
    justthisguyyouknow
  • RE: Canada plans to close more than 90% of government datacenters

    Is there any indication what hardware they are consolidating to (keeping)? Seems amazing that they are closing 90% of the datacenters but only reducing 4% of the budget, am I reading that right?
    JodiRaquel