Apache CloudStack Open Source Powers Government Services in India

The Apache CloudStack infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) platform is helping solve a critical need in India, enabling the country’s 1.38 billion people to access government services.

A major challenge in bringing digital services to the Indian population is the country’s geography and population density, with citizens living in large urban centers and remote villages. At CloudStackName Collaboration Conference 2021, Abhishek Ranjan, Chief Technology Officer at CSC e-Governance Services India, shared how the open-source cloud platform helps bring government services to even the most remote parts of India.

A thing CSC, an agency headed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology under the Government of India, is doing this by rolling out digital kiosks and government service desks across the country to give citizens access to a variety of services. Through this effort, citizens can access government health, financial, insurance, and telecommunications services.

Why India Built a Private Cloud CloudStack

CSC considered using a public cloud provider such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, but ultimately decided the best route was to build its own cloud, Ranjan said.

“We do a lot of apps that require a high level of governance and legal compliance requirements,” he said.

Due to the need for very granular controls and jurisdictional requirements in India, the best option for CSC was to build and operate its own cloud, as public cloud operators simply had no options for meet Ranjan’s requirements.

The CSC team looked at different options and found the Apache CloudStack open source project. CloudStackName is an open source project at the Apache Software Foundation since 2012. The cloud technology was originally created by a startup, Cloud.com, which Citrix acquired in 2010.

CSC started by experimenting with CloudStack on a single server to first understand how to deploy it, according to Ranjan. He noted that the ease of use and simplicity of the system gave him and his team the confidence needed for a wider deployment. That first deployment was in 2016, and over the past five years, Ranjan’s confidence in CloudStack has only grown.

“Over the past five years I would say it’s been a very smooth journey for us,” he said.

How CSC deploys and maintains CloudStack

Ranjan attributed CSC’s success with CloudStack to the quality of the official documentation, which makes the platform easy to understand and use.

CSC has also benefited from its collaboration with Blue Shape, which is a CloudStack consulting and support provider. Ranjan’s in-house team that helps build and operate the CSC CloudStack platform consists of just five people.

The open-source Apache CloudStack provides the cloud foundation on which CSC builds the application services Indian citizens need. CSC primarily uses open source technologies for its CloudStack-based cloud. The main virtualization technology used by CSC in CloudStack is open source KVM hypervisor alongside open source Ceph object storage technology. the Elastic stack is used for logs and application monitoring, while Ansible helps provide automation capabilities.

While the infrastructure and its ability to function is important, Ranjan emphasized that it’s equally important to have applications that run well on the infrastructure. To this end, CSC also uses open source technologies, including PHP, node.js and Java for MySQL and Redis development and databases.

“Above all, the simplicity of CloudStack really helps us,” Ranjan said. “We’re running it with the minimum number of people so we can really focus on our core business activities, rather than just worrying about infrastructure.”

Ashley C. Reynolds