Union govt to set up large data centres in all states

Union govt to set up large data centres in all states

New Delhi: The Centre is getting ready to set up large data centres in all states to help provide the technological underpinning for initiatives under the national e-governance plan.

“We have formulated guidelines to set up one data centre in each state that will host services and data related to all e-governance projects. A cabinet approval for this proposal is likely to come in the next couple of months," said R. Chandrashekhar, additional secretary at the ministry of information technology.

After the Cabinet approves the project, implementation is expected to take another six -eight months. The state data centres will entail an investment of over Rs1,600 crore stretched over five years, which includes set-up, operations and maintenance costs.

The state data centres proposal is part of the larger national e-governance plan to provide delivery of digital services to citizens, such as the state-wide area network (SWAN) project, which will provide intranet facilities between government offices and the common service centres that will be the front end of the government services. “We are expecting to have the SWANs, common service centres and the state data centres all in place by the second half of 2008," says Chandrashekhar.

Currently, most of the government services are hosted at data centres run by the National Informatics Centre in New Delhi and Hyderabad. NIC has some storage capabilities in different states but not full-fledged data centres. 

Under the proposal, the ministry would like all 28 states to have their own data centres located in state capitals that will not only work as a central repository of various initiatives, including information and services portals, but also provide secure data storage facilities, online delivery of services, disaster recovery, remote management and service integration. The final number of data centres needed in each state will depend on the size of the state. Under new norms, each data centre will be operated, managed, and controlled government staff with assistance of outside experts. Physical infrastructure could be provided by private suppliers, but the software and service infrastructure will be owned solely by the government.

“We are in a series of discussions with all the states and for the data centre, we feel that more states will go with the NIC services as opposed to the state services," says Chandrashekhar. Analysts say these state data centres will be built in anticipation of the increasing data needs as e-governance initiatives take off. “More application-based projects will drive more data, which would need more data centres across the states," says T.R. Madan Mohan, a director at consultant Frost & Sullivan. “Some of the NIC data will flow into these state data centres but the state data centres are unlikely to displace NIC services." Meanwhile, “state data centres are required because 80-90% of citizen services are provided by state governments and, as the number of services rises, creation of a full-fledged data centre will become inevitable," says Chandrashekhar.