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Cloud Computing: A viable platform to host e-Governance applications in India

ICTpost Governance Bureau 
Datacentres and Cloud Computing to save billions

Datacentres and Cloud Computing to save billions

Indian Government has taken the next step in moving vital government infrastructure onto the cloud. The Department of Electronics and Information Technology is planning to connect state data centres (SDC) through a national cloud network, as part of the National eGovernance Plan, which would provide government business services to the citizens via the Internet. There are SDCs in 16 states presently. It has invited firms, through a request for proposal (RPF), to set up and maintain the private clouds in each state. “The invitation to bid is for supply, installation, configuration…for the components of the State Data Centres for cloud enablement,” says the Department of IT draft tender.

The SDCs, which would be built at an estimated Rs. 5 crore, will help in saving money as IT resources would be shared by departments.

Cloud computing saves energy and emissions by using infrastructure more efficiently. It does this in four ways, according to a recent report from Microsoft, Accenture and WSP Environment & Energy.

  • Dynamic Provisioning: Providing infrastructure only when its needed
  • Multi-Tenancy: Multiple organisations share the same servers to maximise efficiency
  • Server Utilisation: Making sure a software application is using the server efficiently, so more can be done on the same server
  • Data Centre Efficiency: Measured by power usage effectiveness (PUE), the design, build and operation of data centres, including heating and cooling or lighting efficiency, is optimised.

Cloud computing is one of the thrust areas of the proposed National IT Policy that envisages to increase revenues of IT and ITES Industry from US$100 billion at present to US$300 billion by 2020. This policy likely to to be placed before Cabinet within a week for its approval.

Data Centre concept in NeGP
The Government of India has recognised the potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for rapid and all round development in general and transforming governance in particular. With a vision of making all government services accessible to the common man in his locality, through service delivery outlets and to ensure efficiency, transparency & reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man, the Government of India has come up with the National e-Governance Plan. For citizen-centric governance, it is imperative that benefits of ICT should be leveraged to reach the citizens within shortest possible time, in a reliable, secure and cost effective manner. To achieve the citizen centric service delivery goal, the networking, hosting of data and service delivery channels, State Wide Area Network (SWAN), State Data Centres (SDCs) & Common Service Centres (CSCs) were identified as the three core infrastructure pillars of NeGP.

Promise of improved hardware utilisation

Most organisations, however, do not have the capacity, or need, to build their own data centres. Rather than investing in an expensive in-house data centre, cloud computing offers organisations the promises of improved hardware utilisation. Clusters of shared users make better use of power that would be consumed by a data centre server that is already up and running. Cloud computing also can reduce the demands that generate at peak loading times through the automated scheduling of tasks and technological processes like rapid provisioning. This consolidation of real estate plus the implementation of more efficient technologies is analogous to modern farming: cloud computing adopters are doing more on the same amount or even less space than they were even a few years ago.

Over the next decade Cloud Computing will transform how IT is purchased, sourced and provisioned, according to the research firm IDC. Companies use the advanced technologies that Cloud Computing offers to exchange digital information around the world, and across a variety of devices. Companies are able to quickly deploy new applications and meet peak workloads without adding to existing infrastructure. Its autonomic features can be applied to predict harmful events, such as overheating or unbalanced workloads, and take corrective actions. These are all advantages for companies under pressure to save time, and money and maintain a complex IT infrastructure while keeping their primary focus on the business.

Public or external cloud-based services, which receive most of the media attention, are available from a third-party service provider, via the Internet. The term ‘public’ does not always mean free. Some are fairly inexpensive to use, and frequently companies pay vendors per use. Cloud Computing platforms can also be private, however, and hybrid architectures integrate both private and public platforms.

Whether the future of ICT truly becomes one of only cloud computing remains to be seen. Large organisations that have the capital will long insist on having their own data centres for logistical and security reasons. Meanwhile, the harshest critics of the ICT industry will never be satisfied because the transfer of documents, sound files, images and videos will always consume energy. But when you take into account the energy needed to transfer bits of information for an MP3 song compared to what it takes to manufacture and transport a compact disc, the growing demand for data on demand will still consume less energy than the more traditional methods of completing tasks and distributing products – from the recording of songs to the sharing architectural blueprints.

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