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Scalable, Secure Govt Data Centers For Online Citizen Services

Online Citizen Services

A sneak peek into Government data centers scenario

The India Vision 2020 document states that “India’s economic and technological transition will be accompanied by a multifaceted political transformation that will have profound impact on the functioning of Government. E-governance has the potential, if fully harnessed and rightly utilized, to radically improve the speed, convenience, quality and transparency of public administrative services, while enhancing the ability of individual citizens to express and exercise their democratic rights.”

In sync with this, deeper data proliferation through government initiatives likes Aadhaar, DigiLocker, Digi Dhan and apps like Umang have paved the way for explosive growth in internet-enabled consumption. Currently, the government data storage is experimenting with both cloud and IT infrastructure. However, the cloud is not always superior to building in-house IT infrastructure. 

Cloud Vs In-house or dedicated Infrastructure

Government institutions have a need to store far more data than private firms. Though select institutions may be opting for cloud for scalability purpose – where they can opt for a ‘pay per use’ model based on need. But this is not cost effective as it may sound. The cloud storage is always at higher security risk as compared to physical storage. However, the challenge for public institutions run deeper due to the highly sensitive nature of the data. The recent Aadhar Data Leak in March is a clear example of how the Indian government institutional data storage systems are constantly targeted by opportunistic hackers and vested elements re-emphasises the need for localization. Not to mention the growing demand for online services in a country with a billion plus population which demands the scale of a cloud. This makes India’s problem more unique in nature that has to be addressed with indigenous solutions that will need the integration of both cloud and physical solutions. 

National Security Cannot Be Underestimated

The need for security and optimisation at the rack level has never been more imperativeWith recent guidelines put in place, it is mandatory to store data within the country for security purpose. There are enough instances of data leak and the high security issues that are evident from the complexity of governance regime surrounding the cyberspace. National data stored out of the country can be a threat to national security.

The increased data consumption and dependency on technology requires a smarter approach capable of optimising all aspects of IT operations, while managing risk and reducing cost to companies.  Aggregated access controls, audit trails or log of pass-swipes do not alone serve the purpose. Implementing rules-based access controls at the rack level is highly recommended for such requirements. From a rack security and monitoring standpoint, there is an increasing need to secure data center racks and cabinets with SmartLock electronic door access systems to provide an easy to deploy, cost effective, economically networked locking solution for data enclosures of all types.

Citizen centric initiatives demands easy scalability

Citizens today expect more transparency, accessibility, and responsive services from these institutions. Services like applying for Aadhar/PAN/Passport, paying taxes or renewing trade or driving licenses are some of the most tangible interactions citizens have directly with the government. Better technology and connectivity are resulting in higher demand for such services to be made available online. To match the data surge, National Informatics Centre (NIC), which provides technology support for governance services in India recently opened a new data center in Bhubaneswar to address e-governance needs of various departments and ministries. With changing citizen demands, government institutions need to plan ahead, be prepared for unexpected data surge, protect the stored data and be ready for future challenges to erupt in the process. In this process, scalability of the data center is one such vital aspect.

Preparing data centers to scale on a need basis

Data proliferation demands database scalability and larger data storage infrastructure.  While there are multiple ways of doing – doing it in an efficient, cost effective and hassle free is of utmost importance.  Perhaps, data increase coupled with pressure to get it built faster, is forcing these institutions to re-examine how these centers can be developed and activated faster than ever.

When there is an ardent need to increase storage, vertical expansion is the best solution, it maximizes the existing space by providing more computing power in less cost per square foot. While horizontal expansion involves infrastructure cost, vertically scaling up the data center will allow rapid expansion of power density by extending power distribution all the way to the individual rack and cabinets, without undertaking any major structural changes in the data center.

The data centers of the future must have a longer lifecycle and as such need a lot of careful strategizing. One important part of the expansion plan is the choice of PDUs. Balance tilts in favour of PDUs that are capable of extending power distribution all the way to the individual rack and cabinets, without undertaking any major structural changes. Institutions can vertically expand their data centers by adopting 3 phase iPDUs. Bringing 3-phase power to the rack allows rapid expansion of power density by extending power distribution all the way to the individual rack and cabinets, without undertaking any major structural changes in the data center. Power, being a critical and expensive resource needs judicious utilization, and 3 phase iPDUs help optimal utilization of power at each rack level and saves cost.

Besides, modular data center is another quick and cost effective approach where prefabricated factory assembled components are transported to the desired base that comes in customised sizes – from mini centers to Tier 4 data center infrastructure.

The surging demand for citizen centric services is making government institutions reinvent themselves. Rising to this challenge needs a whole new perspective that looks at every inch of the available space with a critical eye and build processes that not only sustain the operations today but are capable of scaling in the future. Utilizing each rack optimally and vertically expanding seems to be the path towards viable and sustained growth for future governance needs. In addition to meeting the demands, this surge also brings security concerns as volumes of data stored in data centers rise exponentially.  When it comes to securing data in a data center, protection begins at the front door and continues all the way to the cabinet space. In order to address the security concerns around data storage, government institutions will need to consider implementing smart security solutions at rack level. 

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