Kim Arora| Indiatimes
“Among other things, the Meghraj will also be a repository and marketplace of e-governance apps. These are cloud-ready apps that can run on national clouds or others. They are also downloadable, and can be run at state data centers,” says Renu Budhiraja, a senior director at department of electronics and information technology (DeitY) working for the project. Another senior DeitY official said the project can find application in areas like PDS and land records. However, specifics of such application are yet to be worked out. The DeitY functions under the union ministry of communication and information technology.
Cloud computing technology makes data, storage and software available on a location off local computers and other devices. It also enables remote execution of software applications. It is expected to bring down costs in terms of infrastructure acquisition and maintenance, and increase efficiency in inter-departmental functioning in the government. An example of a commonly used cloud storage service is the website Dropbox, where users can store files on its servers to later access it through any device.
Currently, 22 State Data Centers (SDCs) are operational. Of these, in 15 states, utilization of infrastructure is more than 50%. Bihar, Mizoram and Jharkhand, says Budhiraja, are at an advanced stage of implementation.
Research firm Gartner forecasts the Indian cloud services revenue to have a compounded annual growth rate ( CAGR) of 33.2% from 2012 through 2017 across all segments of the cloud computing market.
The GI Cloud will be funded on a project-by-project basis. “There are more things coming up. Later, we can also expect to have a Center for Excellence for cloud computing,” says Budhiraja. The Adoption and Implementation Roadmap released earlier this year by the DeitY details the Center for Excellence as “crucial in terms of capability building, providing advisory and spreading awareness within the government about cloud and its benefits apart from international collaboration and coordinating research and development in this area.”
The fruits are already evident. An April report in a business daily highlighted a Maharashtra government cloud computing initiative, MahaGov, quoted a government official as saying they had saved Rs 50 crore in physical server costs by spending less than Rs 2 crore on cloud computing technologies. The official also pointed out how the technology had helped them connect 400 stamp duty collection offices.
A strategic direction paper on Meghraj, dated April 2013, was released earlier this year by the DeitY. “The GI Cloud will provide services to government departments, citizens and businesses through internet as well as mobile connectivity,” says the paper, which is publicly available on the DeitY website.
According to the paper, the cloud, in this case known as the GI Cloud, will provide on-demand programming, testing platforms, and software and data services. The DeitY will look into the policy and strategic direction, operational management, architecture guidelines and standards creation for the cloud service.