Ottawa-based CANARIE is offering Canadian tech entrepreneurs free access to the cloud, while advising them of the “cloud trap” that other cloud service providers can present.
The trap opens when tension between “pay-for-use” cloud services and the custom automation code needed to control resource consumption occurs, advisors at CANARIE, the non-profit research and education network, point out.
Full automation can lock users into features they do not need (but must pay for). But without such automation, higher usage fees to meet common requirements can be the result.
CANARIE offers cloud-based services and open-source software to support business needs for virtual computing horsepower, network and data storage, even word processing. More to the point, they are available on an as-needed basis. Any Canadian small or medium-size company (fewer than 500 employees) may apply to use the service, known as DAIR (Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research), to develop, test or demonstrate their products.
More than 900 companies are already in CANARIE’s DAIR Cloud, and they are developing their own cloud-based products and services to bring to market.
To get in the cloud, companies need only submit a short application.
Once access to the DAIR Cloud is granted, users select the applications they need, like Apache web servers, MySQL databases, and/or the WordPress content management system.
The software is then automatically deployed, complimenting the already existing cloud-based resources like computing, storage, graphical processing units (GPUs), and operating systems; eligible users have access to the free resources for a year (additional resources for nominal fees).
“We’re pleased to be able to offer these easy-to-use software applications that make it easier and faster for Canada’s tech startups to start to develop, test, and prototype their products,” said Mark Wolff, CANARIE’s chief technology officer. “We will continue to evolve the DAIR Cloud program to ensure that startups have access to the technology they need to get a head start in the marketplace.”
CANARIE gets major funding for its programs and activities from the Canadian government, with additional funding from corporate membership fees. Canada’s ultra-high speed National Research and Education Network is operated by CANARIE, together with Cybera, a provincial not-for-profit technical agency. CANARIE has long worked with Cybera to power the DAIR platform, opening up its powerful resources to a much wider community.
Among the innovative Canadian startups the partners say are now taking advantage of the DAIR cloud:
- Advance Property eXposure, a company that’s developing a smart mobile platform to securely deliver potentially life-saving information to first responders. Digital information such as building layouts, exits, electrical shutoffs, and building contact information can help responders plan their approach to an emergency situation while on route.
- Curatio has created a mobile health platform that connects individuals with chronic health issues to a circle of support, including family, friends, caregivers, and medical professionals, with a goal of better managing ongoing treatment and wellness.
- Identos offers a range of security infrastructure solutions for mobile applications. Identos developers were able to collaborate with early customers on product development and evolution in real time by helping these customers test their application prototypes using DAIR.
BoardSpace, a company that develops document and workflow solutions for boards of directors, is another DAIR cloud user, and company founder and CEO Pat Crosscombe described the advantages he’s already realized:
“In addition to ensuring our data stays in Canada, DAIR offers high quality, reliable, scalable and secure cloud infrastructure that supports our team as we continue to refine our product offering. DAIR has been invaluable as we continue to evolve, testing integration with e-commerce platforms and refining our on-boarding processes.”