Interview

ESDS: Bolstering smart city mission and e-governance through cloud solutions

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Piyush Somani, Founder, CMD and CEO, ESDS

The Smart City mission is a critical project for any government that looks to make the decision process more robust by using actionable insights based on the real-time data feeds gained from millions of sensors. For any Smart City project, its backbone lies on data, and faster data processing is only possible by using a powerful Cloud Technology, says Piyush Somani, Founder, CMD and CEO, ESDS Software Solution, in an exclusive interview with Sreetama Datta Roy of Elets News Network (ENN).

What is the vision and mission of ESDS?

Our vision at ESDS is to digitally touch the lives of one billion-plus Indians and transform their lives positively. We have launched a number of Cloudbased solution along with SaaS offerings for Government and the public sector. Through our government and banking initiatives, we have managed to connect 32 percent, that is around 380 million Indians. eNlight cloud technology is the most efficient cloud technology in India saving 70 percent compute consumption, reducing the carbon footprint and proving to be one of the most energy efficient cloud technologies in India. In the coming five years, we will be planting one billion trees under our project Green-Connect due to our commitment to restoring the environmental balance. We will also be transforming the lives of billion people by connecting them on more than a billion smart devices and make ESDS a billion-dollar enterprise.

Tell us about the flagship products and services of ESDS.

We have an array of products and solutions in our portfolio; our eNlight cloud platform is a patented autoscaling technology. It can automatically detect the need for resources without rebooting the machines. It auto-scales horizontally and vertically, thus determining the need to know the resource usage in advance. It is equipped with a pay-per-consume billing model allowing the users to pay only for what they have consumed. eNlight helps in eliminating the cost of the unused resource, thereby reducing the total costs by a significant amount.

Our SaaS offerings for various state and central governments are eTapal, iPAS, ESDS LOS. Our cloud enables SaaS offerings are making an impact on multiple government initiatives and helping in supporting the digital transformation of India. We also have VTMScan that helps in securing businesses by providing an enterprise web-scanner for web domains. eMagic is a web-based management system for IT asset management, device deployment, and comprehensive server monitoring and network management in data centres spread across different geo-locations. We also offer eNlight 360-cloud solution, which comes with a hybrid cloud orchestration layer along with the complete Datacenter management suite, i.e. eMagic and VTMScan. EnlightBot is our AI-driven virtual specialist chatbot platform, which helps the customers round the clock by assisting them on the products and services. It is committed to high standards, zero-errors, and reducing the inquiries on the phone or email by learning to respond to all common service-related questions.

Who are the major stakeholders of the organisation?

Our major stakeholders include the government and Public Sector Units (PSUs), which comprise 44 percent of our industry distribution followed by the technology industry, which stands at 22 percent. We are closely working with several Smart Cities in India like Pune Smart City, Bhubhneswar Smart City, etc. and Municipal Corporations of Nashik and Mumbai, which are connected to our Cloud through their primary operations across the country. We provide smart city solutions by hosting their data on our cloud platform. Over 280 co-operative banks all over India have trusted ESDS for hosting their information on our cloud platform.

What are the major e-governance and Smart City projects handled by ESDS at present?

The Smart City mission is a critical project for any government that looks to make the decision process more robust by using actionable insights based on the real-time data feeds gained from millions of sensors. For any Smart City project, its backbone lies on data, and faster data processing is only possible by using a powerful Cloud Technology. We have worked with EESL for implementing 10 million smart meters around various states in India. Other e-governance projects by ESDS are for the Ministry of Road Transport and highways, Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority and IGR-Land Registration for Land records and Transactions of Government of Maharashtra.

ESDS’s Smart City Cloud is placed across multiple state-of-theart Data Centres, which aims to provide futuristic solutions for Smart Cities. We are one of the first cloud companies that have achieved the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) empanelment for delivering Cloud services to government customers in India. ESDS is authorised to serve the Indian Government with our cloud services, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, and DRaaS are as per the standards that are required by the Indian Government. ESDS is already working with Pune Municipal Corporation and we have successfully deployed a majority of their applications on our Make-A-Cloud-In-India eNlight Cloud technology.

How significant is the role of Cloud technology for changing the dynamics of offering e-services to the citizens?

Prior to the Cloud scenario, the government servers were hosted in multiple locations of these government organisations. These servers were only available for G2G and they were incapable of handling G2C projects due to their vulnerability factors and their non-scalable design. In the last four to five years, the central government has become aggressive in delivering G2C services, to transform India. They were ready to give all the Digital Services to the citizens and when MeitY empanelment process happened and multiple cloud service providers were empanelled many cloud service providers have now become capable of transforming the country. They are now helping multiple smart cities and central government, allowing them to serve G2C services for the citizens. The level of transparency has also improved with all these digital initiatives, the benefits are passed on to the end customer, and ESDS has played a very crucial role in making all this possible. Cloud has been a great enabler of all this because of its availability, flexibility, scalability, and security. Cloud computing is responsible for providing a new service consumption and delivery model which is inspired by the consumer Internet services. E-governance, along with cloud computing, offers integration management with an automated problem resolution, managing end-toend security, and helping the budget which is based on the actual data usage.

Which are the primary technologies such as AI, ML, blockchain, 3D printing, etc. deployed by ESDS to develop the flagship products and services?

India’s largest IoT project is going live from our cloud. As many as 10 million smart meters are already live now and this number will go up to 50 million in the next three years. ESDS’ Blockchain Solution aids financial institutions to execute and verify transactions discretely without any human intervention. Our EnlightBot is an AI-driven virtual specialist chatbot platform, which helps the customers round the clock by assisting them on the products and services which has been implemented by SIDBI and Udyami Mitra. Blockchain architecture can considerably bring down the expenses and diminish inefficiencies in the financial sector. All the different devices that costumers use for banking services like transactions or inquiries can be connected via the ESDS IoT platform where data is aggregated to be transformed into actionable insights.

With ample data and exposure to technology, there also looms a threat to cybersecurity. How is this challenge tackled?

We being a Cloud service provider are more equipped in handling cybersecurity issues because we deal with inline threats day in and day out due to which we come up with more and more solutions and technologies to deal with the attacks and threats. We have also beefed up our cybersecurity posture through regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to keep in check our readiness to tackle cyber threats. Compared to the captive data centres, we evolve multi folds every month. The learnings which we pass and the logs which are generated are all passed on to an intelligent AI system which continuously keeps on updating the policies and rules as the decision keeps on evolving, the technology keeps on continuously evolving. Our security solution can see every server, every gateway, every potential access point to the network, and every subtending user device, leaving no holes open for the hackers to exploit. So as a cloud service provider, we are always equipped to deal with threats and any challenges.

“People find it convenient to post on WhatsApp and comment on social media but they find it difficult to use the digital solutions and digital platforms provided by the government to communicate with the government. The slow rate of adoption needs to be improved by creating awareness and effective marketing methods.”

What are the other challenges and how do you plan to mitigate those?

We have a dynamic data centre and without our DCIM tools, it is almost impossible to understand the amount of space, power, and cooling we have or predict when we will run out, which server is the best for a new service, and just how much power is needed to ensure uptime and availability. Our DCIM tools quickly model and allocate space, manage power and network connectivity. Our emergency backup generators continue to power our data centers even in the event of a power failure.

What are your major plans in pipeline for the upcoming years?

Outside India, we are already expanding in 16 other countries. We have started playing a crucial role in transforming other countries in the Middle East & Africa. In India from the current 380 million people, we hope to impact lives of One Billion people and transform their lives positively and we will play a crucial role when India becomes a number three developed economy in the world.

According to you, are the Digital India initiatives of the Government implemented and executed well among the citizens?

The government is putting many efforts in the Digital India Initiatives but more than the government, the citizen mind-set needs to change and adapt because the adaption is very slow. There are a number of smart solutions that are being rolled out with a lot of solutions and applications for citizens. Many Municipal Corporations have come up with citizen-centric initiatives, but the citizens are not using those. People find it very convenient to post on WhatsApp and comment on social media but they find it very difficult to use the digital solutions and digital platforms provided by the government to communicate with the government. The slow rate of adoption needs to be improved by creating awareness and effective marketing methods. The government can design an environment of sticks rules for getting to more people online.

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