Sheepdog Teaches Clueless Canadian Organizations About the Cloud

We recently pointed out that 95% of North Americans don’t understand what cloud computing is. Stormy weather was indeed brewing as 51% thought that it might interfere with cloud operations across the world.

Education on cloud computing and the incredible potential behind the technology is therefore very important. Halifax-based Sheepdog is just one of eleven certified Google Apps Premier Enterprise Resellers in the world and wants to give Canadian organizations an education about the cloud. They will be hosting events in VancouverCalgary, and Toronto from October 16 to 18 as part of their Google Apps roadshow that started in St. John’s, Newfoundland last week.

As one of the first value-added resellers to specialize in deploying Google Apps and building web applications on Google infrastructure four years ago, Sheepdog has helped over 400 clients around the world move their business systems into the Google cloud environment. Some of those marquee clients include Cadillac Fairview, Porter Airlines, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Sheepdog’s mission is to help organizations better understand how to leverage cloud platforms. I recently spoke with Jesse Mawhinney, a Marketing Coordinator from Sheepdog. Mawhinney notes that in the past that organizations spent millions of dollars buying enterprise software.

With the mainstream adoption of the cloud, the cost of entry to use these systems has dropped dramatically. Cloud solutions are typically priced in an all-inclusive subscription model. That eliminates the need for a massive up-front capital expenditure on licenses and provides more flexibility. Cloud solutions can also be deployed more quickly, and benefit from frequent minor updates as opposed to multi-year upgrade cycles.

The accessibility of cloud solutions means that small and medium businesses can now leverage powerful software that was previously attainable only by larger enterprises.

Google is a leader in this enterprise cloud space. Google offers a comprehensive set of APIs and tools that enable organizations to integrate Google Apps with their existing environment. It also enables them to build custom apps on the same robust infrastructure that powers Google Apps. It allows developers to rapidly create and deploy web applications. They will not have to spend time managing servers or worrying about whether the apps will be able to scale up to meet demand.

In 2009, Sheepdog sponsored the ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships which were held in Halifax. As part of the sponsorship, they built a web application that delivered real-time race results directly from the official timing systems that were used to judge the event.


A video that illustrates the power of building your business with Google Apps.


Unsure about the popularity of the app prior to the event, Sheepdog decided to build on App Engine. Adoption turned out to be much higher than the development team expected. Although traditional hosting setups would have been overrun quickly, App Engine scaled effortlessly. It served over 1,000,000 page views from 93 countries over the three day event, handling upwards of 350 requests per second during the final race.

Mark Long, Director of Application Development at Sheepdog, reports that many organizations are quickly realizing the potential of such platforms for delivering business applications to their employees. Those organizations are considering migrating legacy apps and building new apps in the cloud from day one. There may be lingering concerns about storing sensitive data outside of company walls or the level of security offered by cloud providers, though.