ThinkOn: Providing Sovereign Cloud Solutions and Services That Meet the Needs of Canada’s Data

BrandPost By Ken Phillips
Jan 31, 2022
Cloud ManagementIT LeadershipManaged Cloud Services
Credit: Gabriel Shakour/istock

When Craig McLellan, the CEO of ThinkOn, founded the company in 2013, he had three core principles in mind. First: All of the company’s cloud computing services would be easy to understand and simple to deliver. Second: They would be transparently priced, with no hidden charges. Third: They would be secure and well supported.

Today it’s clear that the company, based in Etobicoke, Ontario, has delivered on McLellan’s vision. A cloud services provider delivering IaaS solutions and data management services through a global channel network, ThinkOn works with more than 150 resellers; oversees and manages more than 100 petabytes of data (the exact volume cannot be disclosed); and provides the compute, network, and storage capabilities more than 1,500 organizations rely on.

Among these are the Canadian Federal Government, provincial and local agencies. The company also works with customers in highly regulated industries such as healthcare that must not only ensure their data remains in Canada, but that it complies with numerous requirements, including the sovereignty of all employees and networks.

We recently caught up with McLellan to learn why he feels it’s important to offer sovereign cloud services and to achieve the VMware Cloud Verified Sovereign Cloud distinction. We also took the opportunity to get his thoughts on how he sees the market for sovereign cloud services evolving.

“Our tagline at ThinkOn is ‘Where Data Thrives,’ but it’s more than a marketing message. It’s what we aspire to every day,” says McLellan. “In no area of our business is this more important than in our Canadian service delivery infrastructure. It’s entirely sovereign. We don’t rely on employees or organizations that reside outside of Canada to support it, and we’ve taken a number of steps because of our commitment to the Canadian Federal Government to ensure enhanced reliability and security. I would say that all Canadians are being served with our sovereign cloud.”

The role sovereignty plays

McLellan notes that organizations often fall for the misconception that the data they are trusting cloud providers with is managed and secured in a sovereign way; however, many hyperscale clouds rely on offshore resources for tasks even when the data remains at a domestic location. For that reason, he says, they are not sovereign.

“Organizations based in Canada must adhere to the laws of Canada,” he says. “True sovereignty is important because even our closest neighbors have regulations that completely contradict the privacy and data security laws we have in place in Canada and believe are important. If you look at the U.S., for example, data is monetized in ways we consider abhorrent. So why would you put your data at risk and not rely on the laws and regulations established in our own country to protect our people and their data?”

VMware plays an important role in this.

“We are very committed to the entire VMware stack, and as the company comes out with interesting and innovative technologies, we look for ways to complement our VMware-powered service data infrastructure,” adds McLellan. “VMware does not pass its designations around lightly and being VMware Cloud Verified and VMware Sovereign Cloud certified is valued by our customers.”

Not surprisingly, McLellan believes more organizations will look for sovereign cloud solutions as they see their data abused or even stolen.  He notes that this not only includes organizations in highly regulated industries like energy, financial services, healthcare, and telecommunications, but organizations across all industries.

This extends to any businesses in which customers want to be assured that their personally identifiable data is stored and safeguarded by organizations that must comply with the most stringent, local, regional, and national data protection regulations.  Notably, this includes those that utilize or process individuals’ payment information such as retailers and e-commerce companies.    

“Some people equate data as an asset to oil, but I disagree with that comparison, because if someone steals your oil, you know it,” he says. “As the headlines reveal, most organizations don’t know when their data was taken or compromised until it’s too late. As more organizations face that reality, more will understand that if there are laws in place to protect their data, it behooves them to leverage infrastructure that aligns with them. At ThinkOn, we’ve made the commitment to align our offerings with the regulatory frameworks imposed on us by the people of Canada.”

Learn more about ThinkOn and its partnership with VMware here.