Canadian Computing Forecast: Partially Cloud-y
Written by Douglas W. Grosfield – President & CEO, Xylotek Solutions Inc.
Just like its namesake, Cloud looks solid from afar, all soft and fluffy. Up close however, the vapour is difficult to grasp, much less see clearly. I’ve seen many differing articles and opinion pieces on the technology called Cloud Computing over the last few years, and it’s no surprise that clarity still escapes Canadian businesses.
Cloud Computing can be defined as using a network of servers and storage, located on the Internet, to house and run your applications and data, rather than doing so on your own premises with your own IT infrastructure. If you think Cloud Computing is a new concept, think again. Consider how long ago many of us used an aol.com or yahoo.com email address! Email and backups hosted on the Internet have been around for a very long time. In recent years the concepts behind delivering those technologies as a service are being extended to include almost any conceivable IT need!
Some of the many benefits to adopting Cloud Computing to any degree would include:
- Changing IT expenditures to operating expenses rather than capital expenditures
- Significant cost savings from eliminating the need to invest in the physical infrastructure, software licensing, or the costs of housing and operating the IT environment
- Performance levels of applications could far exceed what you could afford internally, as it runs on an infrastructure designed to run hundreds or thousands of times the workload
Unfortunately, in the tech world, “ease” for the consumer almost always means higher cost to support and maintain. Complexities on the back-end are immense in order to configure, implement and maintain the massive infrastructure a Cloud provider requires. Guess who pays for that? That’s right-the consumer. Do your homework, or work with an organization that can help you to fully understand the total cost of “ownership” as it applies to Cloud versus more traditional in-house methods.
Interest in Cloud Computing has been increasing among Canadian businesses, but many have been slow to adopt due to uncertainties. Here in The Great North, a recent study undertaken by CA Technologies shows that the US Patriot Act is among the top concerns for Canadian businesses reluctant to adopt Cloud Computing. The fear is that due to heightened security throughout the US, if we allow our data to reside in hosting facilities or data centres in the US, government/officials could adversely affect our businesses by seizing or locking out our access to our data as part of an investigation or reaction to a serious event there. While this concern has merit, it is typically overstated. The advent of solely Canadian owned and based Cloud Service Providers is helping to allay those concerns. The very best protection you can have is technology that encrypts your data before it even gets to the Cloud. This allows you to remain in control of how, and how well, your data is protected via encryption, and if it was to end up in someone else’s hands for any reason, it would therefore appear as gibberish. Security becomes even more critical when you consider that hackers/attackers are starting to move to the cloud to take advantage of the scalability that is possible.
The Cloud is rapidly approaching! Understand the technology and associated risks and work with your IT advisors to determine if/when/how your business can benefit from adoption.
Douglas W. Grosfield is President & CEO of Xylotek Solutions Inc., a full service IT solutions provider serving clients’ needs throughout North America for hardware, software and professional services. Xylotek helps clients to augment their internal IT department to be more effective and efficient, reduce their IT spend as well as outsource all of their IT requirements from helpdesk to CIO and everything in between. Winning awards such as Best Tech Workplace (1st place in Canada), and 3rd overall in North America, placing in 2008 and 2009 on the Profit HOT50 Emerging Growth Companies lists, the 2011 Profit 200 Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies list, and the 2011 North American Service Providers Fast Growth 100 list, as well as being a 2011 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year nominee, Xylotek continues to achieve recognition as a trailblazer providing best-in-class offerings to its diverse client base.
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.