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Our strategy for the future is cloud first model: A Rajagopal, Chief GM- IT, Food Corporation of India

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The Food Corporation of India is one of the largest corporations started by the Government of India and falls under the direct ownership of the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, formed by the enactment of Food Corporation Act, 1964 by the Parliament of India. It has one of the largest supply chain management processes in India. 

Rajagopal, Chief GM- IT, Food Corporation of India shares his views on data centres, cloud, feasibility and security. Edited excerpt:

Highlighting that FCI has had the late mover advantage in IT implementations, Rajagopal said, “You might not have heard about us a lot as we have not done much in information technology. I would say we have a late mover advantage, in the sense; many of these legacy problems that my colleagues from other PSUs have faced but we have not encountered as we literally had nothing. Our real journey in IT was initiated in the last decade only when we started doing something seriously. We generate huge sums of data, as we procure grains from almost two crore farmers every year, and every month we provide food grains in the public distribution system to about 80 crore people of the country. So we generated a lot of data, a lot of systems were there, but mostly it was legacy systems. Typically it was manually driven, then we started end process reporting. The real-time monitoring of the systems actually started in the last five  to six years.”

Pointing out that most of the data was residing in collocated servers in National Informatics Center (NIC), Rajagopal stated, “However, now, in the last six months, we have made a clear strategy for the future that it will be cloud first. We are moving everything to the cloud where the process has already started. Most of our major applications have already moved to cloud; partly it is in NIC cloud and partly it is in private cloud. So one major decision that we will be taking is whether we should continue with this kind of model of having different clouds operated or shall we consolidate into one cloud.



Talking about the cloud being more secure, he added, “That is that that is one of the drivers for the decision. We don’t have a data centre of our own as of now, we were using the co-location service of NIC and mostly the cyber security part also, they were only taking care of it, except for our internal computer system, we had a firewall protection. As an organisation we have to look at two things: whether we have the internal capacities to deploy more of the systems and monitor it on a regular basis. Secondly, from a cost perspective it will be more economical. So looking at these two things and our level of development in IT sphere, we felt that it would be better to go for a cloud first model and move everything to cloud and ideally on a Software as a Service (SAAS) model, but we don’t know whether we will go for an entirely SAAS model for everything. But this we are using as a strategy to address the cyber security needs as well. And as per the feasibility also, it matches our expectations. “

FCI is planning for a major IT push, and is in the process of exploring an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, informed Rajagopal, adding, however, that they are still undecided as over a period of time, many systems developed in silos. “One option could be to create an over-lasting layer over that, try to set up a data centre and run the analytics. It is a transition phase for us.”

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