RailTel, a PSU under the Ministry of Railways, Government of India, will soon boost the process of digitalisation by creating 102 edge data centres across many regions of India.
The government enterprise is seeking partners to set up 102 edge data centres at railway premises across the country. The major focus will be Tier II and Tier III cities, which are deprived of high-end infrastructure like metros and Tier I counterparts.
These proposed edge data centres will also enable RailTel to improve resiliency of the network and help to improve customer experience of its retail broadband service “RailWire”.
Puneet Chawla, Chairman and Managing Director, RailTel explains on the need of efficient data centres, “Data centres are a critical part of digitisation as the data storage and other computing requirements need to be met for an effective digitisation process. Currently, majority of India’s data centres are located in metros and Tier I cities, which causes high latency and is not cost effective due to transport cost in providing digital services to Tier II and Tier III cities and rural areas.
Edge data centres are small data centres located at the edge of the network, where they are closer to end users and devices. Having such a facility at the edge would enable faster performance and lower latency as organisations will not have to move the data to far-flung data centres to process it. Latency has always been a problem for data centre managers, but in recent times it has become a critical concern in view of a wide range of next-generation applications like big data, the Internet of Things, cloud and streaming services, and other technology trends.”
According to Chawla, these edge data centres will enable RailTel to deploy IT infrastructure for ‘caching’ of popular contents to improve the experience of RailWire broadband customers as cached contents will then be served locally instead of travelling over long stretches of Network. Similarly, IT infrastructure for ‘peering’ with content players can also be deployed in these edge data centres which would improve cost economics for delivery of contents.
The current subscriber base of Railwire is around 4.4 lakhs and it will further rise sharply with the coming up of the new edge data centres.
“With the help of such localised data centres, rural areas can be served with low latency to serve market requirements of e-commerce platforms, content providers and IoT related industries including health, education, skill development sectors. It will also provide an opportunity to local professionally skilled manpower to participate in this transformation. Data centre services are used for critical railway operations. However, these proposed localised edge data centres can help in providing faster services to Railways and more effectively meet its current demand as well as future modernisations projects like LTE, TCAS, IoT based condition monitoring of assets etc. shall also require fast and efficient data centre services,” mentioned Chawla, highlighting the impact of data centre services in rural areas and railway operations.