The use of cloud in delivering government services is gaining momentum, with departments such as National Informatics Centre (NIC), offering the solutions to satisfy this growing demand. Neeta Verma, the newly-appointed Director General of NIC, in an exclusive interview with Souvik Goswami of Elets News Network(ENN), talks about how NIC’s National Cloud is facilitating various eGovernance initiatives under the Digital India programme, such as Digital Locker, Scholarships, MyGov, eHospital and Skill India. Excerpts:
As the new Director General of National Informatics Centre (NIC), what are your plans for the organisation?
NIC has worked with different government departments to build a number of eGovernance solutions, and a lot of systems to deliver citizen services have been designed and developed by our team. We shall strengthen these solutions with emerging technologies, with Cloud, Analytics and Mobile being an integral part of it. We plan to set up competency centers in our offices across India to leverage their strength in emerg- ing technologies and build nationwide solutions. Our focus shall be on building platforms and products for Digital India programme.
NIC has also set up a nationwide ICT infra- structure for the government to facilitate eGovernance across the Central Government, State Governments, districts and the sub-districts. Data centers, high speed network, cloud, cyber security, video conferencing, messaging, web hosting and GIS Infrastructure set up by NIC helps governments deliver citizen services at a much less cost and launch new services within a short time. With the Digital India Initiative of the government, demand for these services has increased manifold. We plan to strengthen our ICT infrastructure with new technologies and capacity to cater to the demands of the Digital India Initiative.
The Government of India has initiated the ambitious Digital India programme. How important is ‘National Cloud’ as the core of this initiative?
The Digital India programme includes a number of eGov initiatives, which are using ICT infrastructure in a big way. Initiatives like Digital Locker, Scholarships, MyGov, eHospital and Skill India are powered through the National Cloud set up by NIC. It also offers departments the ability to implement projects quickly since they do not have to go into procurement and commissioning of infrastructure. One of the important benefits of the National Cloud is that government projects can go live in a short time, that too at a minimal cost. Cloud also offers the facility to scale up infrastructure at a short notice to cater to the peaks in demand of a government service.
What is the present status of National Cloud?
The National Cloud, set up by NIC, was the first such cloud setup under ‘Meghraj’ initiative. Today, around 350 government projects are already running through this cloud, with almost all the Digital India initiatives powered through this. Over 6,000 virtual servers have been created and allocated to various central and state government departments, and even some of the district projects are using National Cloud.
How has been the response of the state governments to National Cloud?
The states are keen to use cloud services and some are in fact already using it. A few state governments have also set up small clouds in their State Data Centres to explore the potential of cloud in government service delivery.
We are also setting up cloud services for our 650 district centres across India. They will use cloud servers for development of eGovernance applications as well as delivery of services at the district level. This will help us optimise our ICT infrastructure for districts in a big way and also enhance availability of services in remote parts of the country.
NIC Cloud Services : Objectives We need skilled manpower to assist us 24×7 for operating our cloud services. But, getting such human resources having optimal experience is a real challenge. Automation in cloud provisioning, operations and management is another priority, as it will increase productivity of our team manifold. Development of eGovernance software systems that can leverage the potential of cloud is another domain where a lot of work needs to be done. Getting solution architects and system designers for web scale applications is another requirement. Hence, we look forward to Industry collaboration in all these domains.
What is your cloud expansion strategy for the Digital India era?
Under the ambit of Digital India pro- gramme, a lot of new large-scale ICT- enabled initiatives are being launched by different departments. National Cloud is being further enhanced to cater to meet the increasing ICT requirement of these departments. Increase in cloud resources and addition of new nodes and managed services are some of the key aspects of the expansion strategy. We are also building a new National Data Centre in Bhubaneswar, which will be completely cloud-enabled as a new node in the National Cloud. Our aim is to provide state-of-the-art and secure cloud services to enable government departments take any initiative in a short time without worrying about procurement or commission of ICT Infrastructure.