IT CONSOLIDATION AT HQRS.OFFICE VIS-A-VIS E-GOVERNANCE PROJECT

Problems always pile up in deployment of the Personal Computers (PC) in offices; Do the offices need PC for core work flow ?

2. The IT consolidation efforts undertaken centrally for providing work flow and MIS reports relating to the statutory documents in e-governance projects may frequently may not include other basic information/reports that are of ad-hoc type, collected by the sub-ordinate offices formally or informally in non-statutory forms from the targetted consumers or industry, for reporting to the higher offices.

3. This is because so much information is needed for policy or statistical or research purposes from the targetted industry, beyond what the statutory forms or prescribed documents convey. The Govt. collects large information from the subordinate offices, that are almost two or three times larger or different than those contained in the prescribed registers or statutory documents. It is likely that the Data Warehousing or Data Mining concepts/projects may take longer time-frame to collect such non-statutory, non-prescribed statistics or reports.

4. In e-governance projects, for ensuring the success of the project in so far as it relates to the safe storage and quick retrieval of records, users are supplied only the Thin Clients and not PCs. While the vendors will take care of hardware for e-governance project, the existing locally purchased Personal Computers (PCs), are required to be maintained by hqrs.office. Hence, proper deployment of local PCs is as much important as those under the e-governance project.

5. The highlight is that “whether we should use PC at office for main and core work flow which occupy more than 50% of the workload or time. In private companies, the PCs are not deployed up to the level of Senior Managers. All employees below this cadre are provided with Thin Clients only which too can function like PCs, with some restrictions which benefit employees by improving their productivity and preventing wastage of office time and resources.

6. IT resource-building and spending by public enterprises is evolving into a new arena to consolidate or reduce the number of Servers and PCs by way of virtualisation concept which swaps different Operating Systems into a single hardware introduced by VMware, Citrix, or Microsoft, etc. and makes the management of Desktop PCs and Servers easier. Hence we need to adopt the recent changes if not the latest. Following are the problems with the deployment of PCs [known as Fat or Thick Clients] as contrasted on the other side with the advantage of Thin Clients.
Disadvantages of PC (hyperlinked)
Advantages of Thin Client (hyperlinked
Hardware problems frequently occur in PCs provided at all locations that require trouble-shooting by the AMC or hqrs.offices; work done by AMC also needs monitoring by hqrs.office;
There will be very less requirement for monitoring the Thin Clients; managing them will be easy.
Parts are replaced by AMC when fault occurs; if these events and their quality are not monitored at different/remote sites, the entire PC in due course may be reduced to a lower hardware version; this implies that the processing speed of documents will plunge resulting in frustration to the users on their being prevented to transfer the contents from their mind on a fast streaming to the output screen with least obstruction;
Thin clients will display only the applications necessary for office use; unwanted program can be prevented. Hence documents can be saved very fast. When TC is faulty, they can be immediately replaced as a full unit and there is no need to transfer the contents from old one to new one, because the entire storage is at the Server
Despite installation of anti-virus solutions, posing of continual nuisance by network viruses and Internet worms is not ruled out for both the users and the computer section;
TC will not be affected by virus, unless PC is converted as TC. Data can not be corrupted at or stolen from TC. Only the Servers need to be monitored
Users have the same concept of using their home computers, at the office PC also; voice, graphic & animation program are unnecessarily loaded to the office PC, which reduce the efficiency of the memory and processor when both the office applications and the other ones are simultaneously used
Obviously, no unscheduled or unwanted work can be done or fresh software loaded to the TC; employee attitude will thus change to treat office PC/TC as different from Home PC.
Hqrs.offices spend much time on the hardware side of the job rather than on the software or applications side which is more pertinent to the main domain of revenue collection; spending much time on hardware is not the core work of the Dept.
Once Thin Clients are put in place, care can be taken on data and applications and training of staff.
Upgradation of Operating System, Add-on software or SW patches, additional inter-active software like java plug-ins, etc., play crucial role in the usage of PCs and take more time for configuration frequencies.
Thin Clients have only flash, solid state memory and display mirror image or generate server pages and are dependent on server; hence no updation required. Thin clients can bring out applications of either MS-Windows or Linux.
All PCs use lot of power consumption and particularly the old ones are not conforming to the IT concept of the year 2009, “Green PC”
Thin Clients or PCs with “Atom Processors” use very less, just around 30 % of power used by normal PCs.

7. Hqrs.offices also may, in respect of their own spending and maintenance, toe the line of their central/ e-governance consolidation effort which is oriented to optimising the usage, result, safety and cost reduction of IT products/services used. This concept may be implemented as follows:
Thin clients (either as a concept or hardware) may be deployed, backed up by suitable Server with Microsoft Terminal Server or 'Citrix' Software at the hqrs.office. A windows server running MySql or Oracle can compile various Excel tables into a database at the back-end. All reports in table formats called for from higher level offices can be centrally hosted on this server so as to make the subordinate offices post the inputs in those formats for back-end compilation by the Server. The database thus created can be later datamined using MySql or Oracle to create new formats for report generation. Inputs or these reports are not covered under statutory data, but required for submission to higher offices. In due course, all these old inputs or formats can be updated so that all old reports can be re-generated in any type of format ; thus, subordinate offices need not be addressed seeking for those old statistics. [The above configuration can be done alternatively under Linux Server with Apache, MySql, and PHP software, all of which are Open Source Software floated as free or costing very less]


8. Once this consolidation is done, hqrs.offices can harness its time and workload towards more meaningful, buoyant, time-saving and cost-saving purposes. This proposal may not interfere with the central e-governance project either.