A client company, Bastionhost Ltd., held a mini-summit earlier this week seeking to expand its vision of building data centres in Nova Scotia. A key part of its value proposition is the regulatory climate in Canada, paticularly its privacy laws that are deemed adequate under European Data Protection law and alow millisecond access to American markets without having the data accessible under laws like the USA Patriot Act.
Here's the press release for the event
PRESS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Monday, December 1st, 2008
IT start-up Bastionhost announces initiative to attract business to Atlantic Canada Dataville, Canada
This economic downturn could provide an unprecedented opportunity for the Nova Scotia information technology sector, a technology entrepreneur told a Leadership and Innovation Mini-Summit held at the Halifax Club last week. The current economic crisis presents the Atlantic region with a unique business advantage, said Anton E. Self, founder and CEO of Halifax-based IT startup Bastionhost.
Self unveiled an ambitious strategy he calls "Creating Dataville" to develop a data centre industry in the province. Data centres are a fast-growing sector as corporations and governments struggle to store the massive amounts of information that underlie much of the economy.
"Massive losses stemming from the mortgage loan crisis have driven major financial institutions and enterprises with offices in both New York and London to look for ways to slash operating costs," said Self. "Their losses can be Nova Scotia's gain. Why pay millions to operate two backup data centres in North America and Europe, when one in Dataville will do?"
Self, announced his company's project to put Nova Scotia on the technological map by establishing a system of data centres and digital media storage facilities in the province.
"We can build a new billion dollar industry right here in Nova Scotia," he said, highlighting the region's dense and established infrastructure and relative affordability. "But we need to invest in improving and integrating our critical infrastructure here, now, if we are to seize the moment and realize our tremendous potential as a leading global data haven."
He said that Nova Scotia's location directly in-between New York City and London, England makes it an ideal location for catering to businesses on both continents from a single site, while taking advantage of multiple high speed fiber-optic cables already in place beneath the Atlantic Ocean.
The costs to build, maintain, and staff data centres in Nova Scotia are a fraction of those in most places in North America where this high-margin sector has taken hold, he said.
Nova Scotia's share of global ICT is about 0.3%, Jason Powell, Chairman of the Information Technology Association of Nova Scotia, told the gathering. He suggested that with more co-operation among companies, Nova Scotia could increase its share to 0.5% or even 1%, which would make a huge impact on the province's economy. "I know we've got the talent here," he said "Why can't our goal be to have IT be to Nova Scotia what energy is to Alberta?"
The province has all the tools to make this happen, he said, despite the fierce competition from low-cost countries such as India. "Innovation isn't about technology but about creativity mixed with business thinking," he said.
Privacy law expert David Fraser argued that Canada's and Nova Scotia's strong privacy laws offer another inherent advantage to the data centre sector, especially since the United States passed the USA Patriot Act in the wake of 9/11. He said, "we can become an information Switzerland."
Self also said that as the local financial services and IT sectors grow, companies are having trouble finding up-to-date data centres in this region. "There's a backlog of demand for adequate facilities, which is necessary infrastructure for attracting and retaining world-class companies. When our policymakers talk about the need to invest in Atlantic Gateway infrastructure, they mean transportation and shipping. But our most valuable commodity is data. To become a more significant global player we must integrate our technology assets and human resources and get the word out to our markets."
Also speaking as part of the mini-summit was April MacLeod, a student employment and placement expert. All four spoke of the advantages of doing business in the Atlantic region, and highlighting niche technology skills, a large student population and potential workforce, and top-notch privacy laws not available in the US, vital to international data storage.
The crowd of more than 60 people who gathered for the talk included prominent business people from the Butterfield Fulcrum Group, Flagstone, Nova Scotia Business Inc, Halifax Finance, The Greater Halifax Partnership, Eastlink, Aliant, Armour Group, McInnes Cooper and Nicom IT Solutions, among many others. Allan Shaw, of The Shaw Group and former Premier, now Senator, John Buchanan were also in the audience.
Self invited attendees to "create Dataville with us" by joining forces to develop business in cities like New York and London. "Working together as partners, allies and friends we can win some serious business," he said. "As one Anton, I can only do so much heavy-lifting. But collaboratively, like 50 ants carrying a coconut, we can raise Nova Scotia to new heights."
Anton E. Self
Founder and Chief Executive, Bastionhost Ltd.
Anton.self (at) bastionhost.com
Chairman, Information Technology Association of Nova Scotia
jkpowell (at) usa.net
David T. S. Fraser
Chair, Privacy Law Practice Group, McInnes Cooper
David.fraser (at) mcinnescooper.com
Secretary of the Board, Bastionhost, Ltd.
David.holt (at) bastionhost.com