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Microsoft India Chairman Raises Questions Over Government Policy On Public Cloud Infrastructure

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Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY) had recently released a request for proposal or RFP for empanelment of cloud service providers for use by departments. However, the same has met with criticism from Microsoft India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik who has questioned the capability of small-scale vendors to handle complex projects — and Government’s openness in accepting requests from such vendors as well.

To realise that ambitious Digital India dream, one of the key components of that process is setting up a public cloud infrastructure (Project Meghraj) for various departments and services in addition to NIC.

Pramanik said that a public cloud infrastructure should be hyper-scalable, hyper flexible and highly secure, and currently, there were only three companies in the world-Microsoft, Amazon, and Google- to provide that level of scalability, flexibility, and security.

In India they want choice…the government is saying they need to open it up for everybody… now the guys who can play in this are really the big guys. They (smaller players) can’t have global footprint,

said Pramanik.

Referring to the recent $15 billion investment of  to set up 100 data centres in 40 regions across the world including India, Pramanik said,

Tell me any Indian company that can provide that capability. We need a better evaluation process and we need to understand that they need hyperscale, otherwise they can do it out of their NIC data centres.

However, Pramanik admitted the security concerns of Government initiatives running on the cloud infrastructure of a private company. He said that he was not recommending to run Aaadhar project on Microsoft’s centre but only recommending that non-critical projects that are under the ambit of the RTI can definitely be run through the cloud.

In response to the comments from Microsoft India chairman, a senior government official gave a rather stern response to ET,

We are not here to satisfy any particular company.

He said that the Government has already held two rounds of consultation with the industry based on which the RFP has been drafted, and the idea was to create as much competition as possible so that prices fall and one day it could be even possible to offer cloud services for free.

Pramanik’s comments, though technically valid, might not find much support from the community as a whole. This is largely because of Government’s push to create companies out of India and not depend much on western giants for support. And while creating and providing such complex infrastructure might be a herculean task, it isn’t impossible for an Indian company after all.

The central government is working on setting up a pubic cloud infrastructure called Meghgraj. But with the ever-increasing spread of cyber attacks on both Government and private infrastructure, there are still some concerns over the data security over such networks, which are yet to be resolved. Although India already has a policy which provides strategic direction for the adoption of cloud services by the Government, detailed guidelines are being worked upon for the departments regarding the kind of projects that can be hosted on such infrastructure.

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