December 2009

Centraly Hosted IT Infrastruture: Need of the Hour

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With a total plan outlay of Rs. 1623 Crore, State Data Centres are poised to become the back bone of the Government to Citizen (G2C), Government to Business (G2B) and Government to Government (G2G) interactions in 28 states and seven Union Territories, under the National e-Governance Plan.  Once executed, Data Centres being the core of ICT infrastructure in any given set-up would be integrating the hardware, network, storage, and management resources, that will play the role of a central repository, secured data storage and will facilitate online delivery of services for the whole of state.

However, there are issues related with the implementation, operations and maintenance of DC, which are to be taken care of, for ensuring maximum uptime and 24×7, seamless delivery of e-Governance services to the citizens. Scalability, virtualisation, standardisation, interoperability, data loss prevention and security, audit, disaster recovery, performance testing of state specific standalone applications and higher total cost of ownership are the issues, which needs to be dealt at length.

To manage these issues related with Data Centres, in the long run, states need to have an in-house resource pool and domain expertise. Moreover, even more important factor in the success of the project is the ownership carried by the concerned state agencies and its leaders. The SDC project, even after the approval of NeGP in 2006, by the Centre with substantial financial allocation, has not attracted the states to ride on e-Government highway leading to a knowledge society. According to the recent report of the Department of Information Technology, a few states including Maharashtra, Orissa and Gujarat have been able to issue Letter of Intent for DC and Tripura and Puduchery the bid process. Rest of the states and Union Territories are lying low in preceding stages of the SDC implementation.

Standalone Central departments like Railways, Corporate Affairs and Income Tax, having their own Data Centres are much ahead of many states in realising the potential of the core IT infrastructure. It’s high time that states understand the imperative of having computerised back ends operations and the need of centrally hosted and shared IT infrastructure for whole of the state.From another angle, it can be noted that the other two key projects for establishing Pan-India IT infrastructure that NeGP envisages- State Wide Area Network and Common Service Centres will not be a complete success unless they are backed by Data Centres.

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