E-governance is a wide area, covering various aspects of governance and its duties and rights towards the citizens, government employees, other governments, businesses etc using information and communication technologies. While Cloud Computing is an extension of the Internet and Information Technology services. Especially Software as a Service over the net. Cloud computing is opening up new applications in various areas like Medicine, Office Software, Social Media, Space Research etc. Its use in E-governance is inevitable. This article is written in the Indian context.
 


Most of the e-governance public facing applications (like income tax filing) are already web based. Hence we can say that we are already using the cloud for e-governance. However more effective use of the cloud can be made in areas such as education, healthcare and rural development. Even urban governance services are very suitable for use over the cloud. This will drastically reduce the cost of e-governance and improve the quality and quantity of services offered. Entrepreneurs are already developing innovative cloud applications for connecting rural marketplaces, schools, hospitals etc. However the government should come up with a common cloud platform and standards, which will facilitate flowering of such innovative applications. It can viewed in a similar way as government providing defense, roads, electricity, water etc.
 
The big question is should the government select an existing cloud platform (like say ec2 or azure) or develop own cloud platform for IaaS and PaaS layers of the cloud infrastructure. This is debatable as having own cloud infrastructure will amount to reinventing the wheel and the headache of maintaining it. However it will provide more flexibility and freedom from the cloud service providers. Also setting standards will involve some technology decisions. We will need to bet on some technologies and discard others. Should the standards be set in such a way that they are independent of technologies. Ideally yes, but it is easier said than done.
 
Coming to the applications, that is the SaaS layer, should the government get involved in developing applications or leave it to businesses and entrepreneurs or do it in a joint manner (PPP). The role of the government should be debated. Maybe a department under the ministry of Information Technology should be setup to look further into this. The e-governance cloud infrastructure should also consider and align to the already made investments in communications and computing resources made by different agencies and states. If a central platform is not envisioned quickly then we will be looking at a highly fragmented and inflexible platform, which will hinder growth of universal cloud applications and very high overall national cost.
 
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The author Vispi Munshi is Founder of ERP India and has vast consulting experience with various ERP Softwares. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..