Digital lockers and flash storage

A digital India needs a strong and secure foundation to build up on

Updated: Sep 22, 2016 02:21:37 PM UTC
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Indian consumers have paved the way into the digital world. They have enthusiastically adopted each generation of increasingly sophisticated and compact devices that came their way: Desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets and smartphones. They have used these devices in new and pathbreaking ways to pioneer the digital lifestyle in India. Indians have been using technology to access a range of services at their fingertips, including ecommerce, banking, social media, entertainment and more. This adoption of new technology has not been limited to the urban or more privileged sections of our society; rural areas have seen farmers, small entrepreneurs and the poor use mobile technology to access information, services and markets that were earlier out of their reach.

Taking cues from their citizens, the Indian government has been making concerted efforts to go digital. The Digital India campaign seeks to continue the momentum and transform India into a digital and knowledge-based economy. Via this programme, the government aims to provide digital connectivity as a core utility for every citizen across the country and transition its functioning to an e-governance model and deliver civic, health and financial services digitally and on-demand. It aims to use technology to ensure efficient, transparent and reliable governance to serve the common man.

A Digital India service that has already gone live is the digital locker - the first step in the transformation to a paperless government. A digital locker is a secure cloud-based storage provided to every citizen and contains, in digital form, all the various documents and certificates accumulated over a lifetime. These include birth, death, marriage, and educational certificates, land, ownership, tax and financial records, driver’s license, vehicle registration, etc. The government agency or institution that issues these documents transfers authenticated digital versions of the document into the secure digital locker. Thereafter it is available to all authorised parties who need to see the document for verification, without paper ever coming into the picture.

Starting this year, instead of issuing the traditional paper-based form of the marksheet, the CBSE (Indian school) board is issuing a digitally signed electronic version of class XII marks. This marksheet is digitally transferred to the student’s digital locker (identified by the mobile number registered with the CBSE board). Now the student has a permanent verified version in her digital locker, with no worries about losing it or having to have copies of it repeatedly notarised or attested. Most colleges and universities today have an online application process, and the student can electronically attach a copy from the digital locker and the whole process is completed without having to run around handling reams of paper. Furthermore, eliminating human intermediaries in the process of issuing and using certificates goes a long way in eliminating forgery.

This is just one illustration of the benefits of the digital locker and it can be extended to other transactions involving documentation, records and certificates. Citizens have easy and secure access to their documents anytime and anywhere via their mobile app or computer; administrative processes can be streamlined adding efficiency, accountability and transparency – all this enabled by technology!

Therefore, it is extremely important that the technology infrastructure that supports this endeavour is high performing, robust and cost effective. Digital India is a massive endeavour overall, and digital lockers alone will require the storage capacity to serve over a billion digital citizens. Moreover, access to this cloud-based storage has to be fast, secure, simple and not limited by location or device. Flash based storage solutions offer the critical combination of capacity, performance and cost benefits. Flash offers a range of compact form factors that can fit into any IT infrastructure design (new or already in use) in the required permutation.

The flash industry has been constantly innovating over the last two decades providing continual improvements in storage density, capacity, and performance. It has a proven track record of providing very fast I/O (reads and writes to the data store – a very performance-intensive task), which is a critical factor in high performance systems that handle large volumes of transactions. Furthermore, flash prices have been falling over the last few years, making it even more attractive for enterprise systems that require massive data storage.

In addition to speed, access and capacity, a very important feature for the digital locker is security. Security has to be rock solid so citizens are assured that their private and sensitive data is only seen by authorised users. Security will of course be built into and across the IT infrastructure at different levels and with different mechanisms, and these security measures will naturally take a toll on performance. Therefore, the fact that flash storage ranks very high on performance will help mitigate this performance hit. More importantly, flash-based systems today are self-encrypting, providing an additional level of defence against hackers and unauthorised access.

A digital India needs a strong and secure foundation to build upon. As with real life structures, the components that make up this foundation have to be of the highest calibre. Flash storage offers all the criteria that are required to construct an enduring platform to serve the nation’s digital needs.

- By Vivek Tyagi, Director for India business development, SanDisk Commercial sales and Support at Western Digital Corporation

(This article expresses the views of the author and not necessarily that of his employer.)

© 2016 Western Digital Corporation or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are of the author.

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