December 2013

Mahagov Cloud

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Rajesh Aggarwal,
Secretary, Department of Information Technology,
Government of Maharashtra

MahaGov Cloud is an initiative by Directorate of Information Technology, Government of Maharashtra to provide Infrastructure as a Service(IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) Cloud service to various departments in Government of Maharashtra. The MahaGov Cloud is implemented in State Data Centre and is extensively used by departments for website and application hosting. The availability of Government Cloud and ease of provisioning infrastructure has encouraged departments to host their application in State Data Centre. SDC is envisioned as the ‘Shared, reliable and secure infrastructure services centre for hosting and managing the e-Governance Applications of State and its constituent departments’. SDC is envisaged to establish a robust infrastructure to enable the Government to deliver the services quickly and effectively to its stakeholders. Continuing to the Shared Service centre, during the implementation of  Maharashtra State Data Centre, the state had conceptualized on implementing Virtualization for efficient utilization of the infra in SDC. The objective of this initiative was to reduce datacenter cost drastically while increasing the IT capacity with maximum flexibility.
Potential of cloud computing
Government of Maharashtra realized the potential of using Cloud Computing as a medium to provide shared, cost effective, faster, reliable, secure, and agile services to the Government Departments. As a part of State Data Centre set up, state had the required computing resources for enabling the Cloud services for the User Departments. The added advantage Government of Maharashtra had was that the State Data Centre was still under implementation mode wherein necessary upgradations required for enabling cloud services was feasible. It was envisaged that Government of Maharashtra will use multi-tenanted services, shared and managed by Directorate of Information Technology, Government of Maharashtra. Shared resources, infrastructure, software and information will be provided to a range of User Departments via MSWAN /Internet; this will be supported by new delivery and supply models. It will be dynamically scalable, agile, and easy to move in and out of the service. MahaGov Cloud is not a single entity; but, it is an ongoing and iterative initiative which will enable, the use of a range of cloud services, and changes in the way the State procures and operates ICT, throughout the Government of Maharashtra.  providing the complete Cloud Services, GoM initiated the services by implementing IaaS and Paas. In order to kick start the initiative, a Proof of Concept on virtualization was started in November 2011 by using VMWare and Microsoft Hyper V. The overall capacity for each of the resources was increased to a desirable level which ranged from CPU, RAM, NIC, Licenses, software, etc. For effective operations and management, the Data Center team was provided with necessary trainings. The benefits of virtualization were achieved after the PoC and soon the next step of moving to complete implementation of Cloud Setup was initiated. The fully operational cloud was commissioned in May 2012. With all the modules of Cloud implemented the stakeholders could realize the value of using shared resources from the State Data Centre. It has surely improved the major constraints of operation with better quality of service, reduced time for infra provisioning and lower cost of hosting.

Key Learning
• Study possible Business Models and alignment of the IT Procurement Policies with the Cloud setup. 
• Define methods for finance and funding, including the sustainability models.
• Plan the cloud implementation in a phased manner. Start with IaaS and PaaS before jumping to SaaS.
• It is of paramount importance to plan the capacity required for all the resources for implementing the cloud solution as per the requirement. Make provision for the number of cores per CPU required, Memory required, what should be the ratio of minimum RAM required per core CPU, Hard Disk capacity required, Storage capacity required, etc.
• Requirements for Network and security needs to be provisioned effectively and efficiently so that each physical server is having enough bandwidth so as to serve the Virtual Machine traffic originating from private/public network as well as the management traffic.
• The licenses required for Operating System and Databases needs to be provisioned according to the licensing policy for deploying cluster which shall ensure the optimum utilization of the licenses procured. If majority of servers are on Windows Server OS then Data Centre edition license for Windows Server may be procured.
• Along with cloud implementation, tape backup software should be configured for backup of VMDK or VHD files so that incremental backup is available for entire Virtual Instance.
• Awareness sessions to departments and consulting firms to be done regularly to ensure acceptance of Cloud for all the projects.

Benefits
Following are some of the major benefits desired out of Cloud implementation:

 Lower costs• Sustainable reduction in the operational costs of ICT across the Departments
• A significant reduction in Physical Resources
• Aggregated demand for the reduced numbers of resources.
• Reduced Foot print
• Better control and administrative benefits over the cloud.
Agility • Cloud computing provides an opportunity for Maharashtra to eliminate hierarchical procurement process.
• Time to provision a Server along with OS and Database has reduced
• Using features of thin provisioning of storage and memory, resources are efficiently utilized and allocated
• Features like Live Migration has helped to manage planned maintenance without requiring any downtime of the application
 Universal resource access• Cloud helps in establishing a common platform for all e-Governance initiatives, one that is easily accessible by the citizens and other stakeholders
• Management and monitoring of Cloud setup is effectively done using the dashboard, alerts and reports generated
• Backup of VMDK or VHD files leads to quicker restoration of the server whenever required
 Continuous update• The onus of upgrading technology is on the DIT in cloud delivery model who ensures Departments have access to the most up-to-date solutions. This also reduces the need for personnel dedicated to monitoring and updating of IT applications
Collaboration• Applications and documents accessible from anywhere, facilitating group collaboration on documents and projects
• Server creation and roll out is faster. Time taken to allocate a system to department has been reduced from hours to minutes.
• Departments can focus in their core sector and are not required to be IT Experts

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