“Huge potential infrastructure for cloud already exists”
Director, public sector marketing, Microsoft (India)
I classify the infrastructure ecosystem into ‘inside out’ forces and ‘outside in’ forces. ‘Inside out’ refers to an environment created by the government, ‘outside in’ are the external forces that create momentum which would force the government in various ways. When you look at the initiatives the government has taken over the last several years to create the ICT infrastructure and an ecosystem, it is clear that they have a huge potential to provide a solid foundation for cloud services.
Look at some of the major pillars of e-governance in terms of connectivity: state wide area network (SWAN), state data centres, the UID or NPR project. Or the common services centre (CSC) and the national knowledge network (NKN) which can be leveraged for riding apps. Each of these is a huge potential infrastructure on which cloud could run.
‘Outside in’ forces here are social networks, online engagement with government and the electronic delivery of services bill. These are the forces which are going to push the government into adopting cloud computing.
Every department will have to deliver 100 to 200 services electronically and that is not going to be achievable by using and developing just a simple set of applications. I have to create readability, sharability, a common service centre, and that’s why cloud computing becomes very important.
From a technology point of view, the focus is on delivering a cloud solution which can either be on a public domain or a private domain. Irrespective of that, you are able to seamlessly deliver the service across all platforms. That’s something we are convinced about because of its open standards and its capability to interoperate. The experience of consuming a product on a featured phone, a smartphone, a tablet or a computer remains seamless because of a similar interface.
Let’s take the case of the public cloud. When we deliver a product, for example Azure, which is a public cloud, complete ownership is taken up by the OEM. The question is to what extent the government is correct on the sovereignty issue and trans-border environment. And the debate around sensitive data is another issue.
When you compare the mission mode projects in the centre and the state, all central MMPs have been on contracts and running well. So when you talk about different agencies within a particular domain there are no issues in data sharing. However, when it comes to different departments there are huge challenges in data sharing.
Let’s take the example of PDS. There are people who will own luxury cars but will eventually go to the ration shops to pick up their ration. (How do you take them out of PDS?) The only thing to be done is to share the data between the food and the transport departments.