May 2010

On Cloud Nine?

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Cloud Computing. Are we ready for it? Is our governance machinery ready for it? These were some of the questions that were on our mind when we started to plan for this issue. Not many people really know how it works, but they are using it in their everyday life. Many websites that we browse through everyday are set up on Amazon Web Services, which is Amazon's Cloud Services offering.

Using the Internet to perform computing, though does offer us cost savings with regards to computing hardware, software, infrastructure etc, but one does need to factor in the additional requirement of high-speed, always on Internet that Cloud Computing demands. Does our government have access to this? Does India have access to 'always on' Internet at a cost that will support and enhance e-Governance?

But that's not to say that e-Governance will not receive a boost from Cloud Computing. It most certainly will benefit all levels of our society and governance. But the infrastructure requirements will need to be in place before the full benefits of 'The Cloud' can be harnessed for e-Governance. In the meantime, we must also remember that Cloud Computing as a technology is at a very nascent stage but it seems very likely that it will be the next big breakthrough technology for the Internet. If we, as a nation start to focus on creating the infrastructure needs for a wider and more efficient e-Governance delivery system, then we should be able to harness this technology in a few years, by which time the technology would also have matured and be ready for deployment in a nation as varied as India.

Another pertinent question about Cloud Computing is the perceived lack of privacy and data security. But that is also something that is being worked up on and going by the way technology moves; the current loopholes should be plugged soon. From the Indian point of view, what is critical is the Cloud's demand for robust and reliable Internet connectivity and that is what we need to focus on.

The need of the hour at the moment is to evaluate and understand what kind of work processes can be migrated on to the Cloud. Both the Governments and Corporates, need to make a careful evaluation of their workflow and identify the processes that can be migrated and build their own capacity to ensure that the do not inadvertently compromise on the quality of service. It is equally important to be ready for the future when Cloud Computing will come into the mainstream.

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