CloudBC: All your clouds are belong to us...02 Nov 2016
The CloudBC initiative to “facilitate the successful adoption of cloud computing services in the British Columbia public sector” is now a little over a year old, and is up to no good.
Like any good spawn of enterprise IT culture, CloudBC’s first impulse has been to set themselves up as the arbiter of cloud vendors in BC, with a dedicated revenue stream for themselves to ensure their ongoing hegemony.
The eligibility request currently online1 for CloudBC is a master-work of institutional over-reach:
- Only CloudBC approved services2 can be sold to the BC public sector.
- Approved services will add an ‘administration fee’ to all their billing3 to the BC public sector and remit that fee to CloudBC.
- The fee4 will be 2%.
And in exchange for that 2% of all cloud services, CloudBC will provide what in return?
Well, they’ll set the eligibility list, so the BC public sector will be literally paying for someone to tell them “no”. Setting the list will include a few useful services like FOIPPA reviews and making the vendors cough up promises to follow various international standards that nobody reads and few people audit. So that’s something. But mostly just more reasons to say “no”.
- The request to vendors was supposed to be released in October 2015, but was actually released in fall of 2016.
- Negotiations with Microsoft for Office 365 and what was dubbed the “Microsoft opportunity” were started in summer of 2016, but shut down in spring of 2016: “decision to communicate that CCIO5 will not pursue the deal as presented by Microsoft”
- Taking the website live was targeted for June 2016, but as of writing it remains “under construction”.
- Spring 2016 plans include contracting with a vendor for a “CloudBC digital platform”, so we’ll at least have an expensive under-utilized web presence “soon” (no RFP exists on BC Bid).
- CloudBC was budgeted $1.6M for year one, and managed to under-spend by about 20%. Getting almost nothing done has it’s benefits!
- An office and several staff have been seconded, so from an institutional existence point-of-view, CloudBC is off to a roaring start.
When I first heard about CloudBC, I was pretty excited. I naïvely thought that the mandate might include promoting, for example, cloud infrastructure inside BC.
Our FOIPPA Act requires that personal information of BC citizens not be stored outside the jurisdiction or by foreign-controlled corporations. That makes using cloud services (usually hosted outside BC, usually owned by foreign corporations) a hard lift for government agencies.
Wouldn’t it be nice if someone did something about that? Yes it would. cough
While setting up “private cloud” infrastructure is anathema (it’s very hard to find success stories, and all signs point to public cloud as the final best solution) in BC there are some strong incentives to take the risk of supporting made-in-Canada clouds:
- Thanks to FOIPPA, the alternative to made-in-BC cloud is no almost no cloud at all. Only apps with no personal information in them can go on the US-owned public clouds, which is a sad subset of what government runs.
- There are other jurisdictions and other technology domains that need non-US sourced cloud infrastructure. Seeding a Canadian-owned-and-operated PaaS/IaaS cloud industry would open the door to that marketplace.
“Just” getting the FOIPPA Act changed would be the cheapest, “simplest” solution (ignoring the humungous, intense, non-negotiable, insuperable political issues). Since that’s unlikely to occur, the alternative is DIY. I thought CloudBC might be that initiative, but turns out it’s just another enterprise IT control-freak play.
- Search for ON-002797
- “As only Eligible Customers with a written agreement in effect with the Province will be permitted to use the procurement vehicle established by this Invitation, including the CloudBC Marketplace, the Province intends to establish and maintain a list of Eligible Customers on the CloudBC Marketplace for use by Eligible Cloud Providers.”
- “CloudBC Framework Agreements will appoint and require the Eligible Cloud Provider to collect and remit as agent an incremental Administration Fee to be paid by Eligible Customers with Contracts in order to fund the CloudBC operations administered by the Province.”
- “An amount equal to 2% of the fees for all services provided”
- BC Council of Chief Information Officers (CCIO)
- All your base are belong to us