The Delhi government, like several other state governments, has adopted cloud services to support various applications. However, there are several challenges with regard to the optimal utilisiation of the cloud. At tele.net’s recent conference, “Data Centres in India”, Santulan Chaubey, joint director (IT), Government of Delhi, spoke about the challenges relating to cloud adoption and some measures to address them. Edited excerpts…
Most of the cloud requirements of the Delhi government are fulfilled by the National Informatics Centre Services Inc. (NICSI). Currently, there is around 90 per cent dependency on NICSI. There are still lots of opportunities for other cloud service providers to provide their value-added services for cloud infrastructure.
Optimality is a very important criterion for every organisation. It is crucial to ensure that applications are seamlessly aligned with the cloud, and the technical manpower has the expertise to develop applications in the cloud environment. However, there are several key challenges that cloud service providers must address to achieve an optimal solution.
While some government departments have data-intensive workloads, establishing a standard configuration for all departments is challenging. The primary purpose of the cloud is to enable on-demand consumption, which is hindered by our inability to conceptualise the cloud as a smooth curve of hardware requirements. In many instances, government departments that typically offer only one or two applications per year receive more cloud storage capacity than they require. This is one reason why the government’s IT department should critically examine and control the number of applications it needs to balance the load with other applications.
For example, the tax department receives a significant influx of taxpayers in a particular month and on a particular day. In contrast, the agriculture department utilises two applications in a year. Given the significant differences in the workloads of these two departments, it is impractical to provide them with the same workload configurations, making capacity building a critical challenge.
“Optimality is an important criterion for every organisation.”
Leveraging cloud services
Another challenge that we face is aligning our own applications to fully leverage the cloud capabilities. At present, most of the applications we currently utilise are still web-based applications and, therefore, do not leverage any cloud services. While we have transitioned from the old physical server format to virtual servers, the processing remains the same, without integration with the cloud. Following the enactment of the Digital Personal Data Protection Act, 2023, it is essential for the New Delhi government to issue more comprehensive guidelines beyond the basic requirement of data centres being situated in India. For handling sensitive data, more specific guidelines are required, including specifying where the data is stored, where it is shared, how much of it is shared, and who is authorised to access it.
The third challenge that we face is migration. Currently, the excise department, which stores terabytes (TBs) of data, is migrating to a new platform, which is a daunting task, especially because the service provider is not changing. This further complicates data management. As custodians of data, we must prioritise data safety and security to prevent leaks.
For instance, during the G20 summit, several government websites faced multiple daily attacks, and in some cases, data was exposed to the public. Therefore, it is crucial to mitigate these weaknesses and minimise the system’s vulnerability.
“It is crucial to ensure that applications are seamlessly aligned with the cloud, and the technical manpower has the expertise to develop applications in the cloud environment.”
Amidst the ongoing data centre transformation, the government faces the key challenge of implementing and utilising data centres. Given the different workloads of various departments, it is necessary to select the right cloud service provider in view of security considerations. Further, the applications that are running on older architectures need to be revamped to adhere to newer methods of development and operation.