Interview

State Data Centres: The Critical Infrastructure : S P Singh, Senior Director-Department of Information Technology, India

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“SDC being a critical infrastructure requiring uptime of the highest order, selection of right technology, monitoring, operation/management   and conformance to the security and data privacy will be major issues to be addressed,” says S P Singh, Senior Director, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.

The State Data Centres (SDC) have been recently approved by the Government of India. What has been the progress made so far?

State Data Centre Scheme was approved by the Government of India on 24th  January 2008 for establishing Data Centres across all states and union territories in the country. Since the approval of the Scheme by the government, significant progress has been made. Policy guidelines on State Data Centre Scheme have been circulated to the states, which bring out various issues and the implementation options that can be exercised by the state for the State Data Centre. A panel of consultancy agencies has been created centrally and the consultancy agency has been allocated to the states as per their choice and preference. These agencies have been assisting the states in the Detailed Project Proposals preparation for the SDC. Adopting the centralised approach, the Department of Information Technology (DIT) has prepared template RFP (Request For Proposal) for State Data Centre implementation and circulated to the states, which shall be used by the states and  customised as per the states requirements, and finalised. Further, the consulting agencies would assist the states in bid process management and overall project management upto the stage of successful implementation and operationalisation of the State Data Centre.

State Data Centre Scheme was approved by the Government of India on 24th  January 2008 for establishing Data Centres across all states and union territories in the country. Since the approval of the Scheme by the government, significant progress has been made.  Policy guidelines on State Data Centre Scheme have been circulated to the states, which bring out various issues and the implementation options that can be exercised by the state for the State Data Centre

How many states have already submitted their detailed project plans (DIP) for implementation of SDCs?

DIT has received proposals from 23 states, which were examined by the Empowered Committee and approved during the last financial year i.e., 2007-08 itself, involving a total outlay of over INR 10,000 million.

What is the preferred mode of implementation of SDCs being adopted by the states ? Are they creating their own infrastructure or are they leveraging on physical infrastructure provided by the private players?

Under the SDC scheme, two implementation options have been given. Under Option I, the state sets up, owns and manages operations of SDC for which a composite team of state IT and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) will be formed and through Option II, the state leverages on the capabilities of existing commercial Internet Data Centres (IDCs).  All the 23 states approved so far, have opted for Option I, where the physical and IT infrastructure will be with the state. 

How active is the private sector in the operationalisation of SDCs?

The IT infrastructure segment is seeing an increased activity in the country. The private sector will play a big role in the overall SDC scheme. There are many blue chip organisations in India providing IT infrastructure management services. By having a defined role for operationalisation of SDC and post-implementation activities, the private players will bring in the best practices accepted and adopted worldwide for the data centre management and operations.

What are some of the difficulties being faced by the states in operationalising the SDCs? How is DIT helping these states in overcoming them?

As the State Data Centre scheme is just at the implementation phase at the state level, it may be possible to indicate  the difficulties they are facing in operationalising the SDCs. However, being the core infrastructure pillar for the National e-Governance Plan and having countrywide spread across the states, the latter are likely to face certain challenges in integrating and migrating the available applications and infrastructure to the SDC. SDC being a critical infrastructure requires uptime of the highest order, selection of right technology, monitoring, operation/management and conformity to the security and data privacy will be major issues to be addressed.
 
There are other challenges such as interoperability, business continuity, disaster recovery,  and capacity planning as  well as optimal utilisation of  resources and the infrastructure. Some of these issues have been addressed as part of the policy guidelines. Further, the composite team of domain specialists and experts on data centre and the manpower hired/recruited specifically for the data center shall be in a position to manage these issues technically and professionally in a ssuccessful manner.

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