The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which is spearheading the roll-out of the ambitious Aadhaar or the Unique Identity project in the country is preparing to shift biometric as well as demographic data records of the residents covered by the project so far to its own (government-owned) data centres by March next year.
The new data centres are located in Bangalore and Manesar. The data centres which took almost two years to be ready have been designed keeping in mind the estimated population of India by 2030. The authority has factored in for almost 1.4-1.5 billion resident records by then.
Four years into being, UIDAI had been using the services of Wipro and Bharti Airtel to store resident records in their data centres in Manesar and Bangalore, respectively. As of mid-August, over 401 million people have been issued UID numbers as the authority is closing into its target to enroll 600 million people by 2014.
According to an official of UIDAI, the authority should be able to shift to its own data centers by March next year. “Having our own data centres will gives us a better handle and control over such critical information,” said UIDAI's Deputy Director General, Kumar Alok. He said that even though there were not any security concerns with the current set-up, it was 'strategically' important to move to a government-owned property.
Sivarama Krishnan, executive director with audit and consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers said that the social security data in most countries is kept outside of public data centers, be it the UK or Belgium or even Bangladesh. “The level of confidence increases with such exclusivity.”
The two data centres, which are almost identical in size and design are spread over a five acre plot and has 12,000 square feet of white space each. While the state-owned Engineers India Limited has done the civil construction of the project, the IT infrastructure will be provided by Wipro. The critical infrastructure such as servers which already belong to UIDAI, will be shifted to the new centres. HCL Infosystems, which is the overall managed service provider for the project will take care of the operations.
Alok said that initially it was decided to outsource the data centre needs of the UIDAI as building its own would have taken time. Around Rs400 crore have been spent on the new centres for the project which is increasingly becoming the focal point for delivery of various government welfare schemes along with authentication services.
“Logically, there is no other option with the government. There may not be a fear of failure but there is a need to create a Z category of security for such information,” said Krishnan of PwC. He added that any third-party will have their own strengths and weakness with regard to sharing of infrastructure. “But, the nothing will provide the government with similar level of access control as having their own set-up.”