Data Centres for Government: Infrastructure for Efficient Electronic Delivery of Government Services

A data centre is a facility used to house computer systems and associated components, such as telecommunications and storage systems. It generally includes backup power supplies, data communications connections, environmental controls (e.g., air conditioning, fire suppression), and special security devices. A data centre is needed for better operations and management control and to minimise overall cost of data management, IT management, deployment and other costs. A new global research shows that awareness of data centres is rising. Even in India, the data centre market is poised to explode. As per the security vendor Symantec, the Indian Data Centre market could reach close to USD 200 million by 2009.

Many a state governments in India such as Kerala, have developed data banks, state wide area networks and applications.The interconnectivity of ‘servers’ is an issue, which calls for the establishment of ‘State Data Centres.’ The National Informatics Centre has established VSAT connectivity in all the districts of the country. There are, however, issues of standardisation, inter-operability, security, and ‘propriety vs open source’ etc. All these issues need to be addressed centrally to ensure harmony and synergy in decentralised deployment.

To fulfill this need, the Government of India, as part of its National  e-Governance Plan, is setting up large data centres in all the states and union territories which would enable the states and union territories to set up robust, shared and secure infrastructure to host state-level e-Governance applications to deliver Government to Government (G2G), Government to Citizens (G2C) and Government to Business (G2B) services electronically.  State Data Centres (SDC) will consolidate services, applications and infrastructure to provide efficient electronic delivery of government services.

There are several challenges in implementing the SDCs. The states might face challenges such as integrating and migrating the available applications and infrastructure to the SDC. Selection of right skill sets, technology, monitoring, operation/management and conformity to the security and data privacy are also some of the major issues to be addressed. Hopefully, the states will tide over these issues soon. In this edition of the magazine, we have brought forth perspectives about the role of data centres from the government-policy makers and implementors, and IT vendors of power solutions, rack and cabinet solution. We have also covered the interview of the Hon’ble Minister for Communication and Information, Papua New Guinea,  who has given an overview of the e-Governance scenario in the country. Hope you would enjoy reading this issue. We look forward to your suggestions.