The process to establish these edge data centres has been set in motion with the floating of expression of interest by RailTel inviting industry to be partner.
In a boost to Mission Digital India, RailTel would set up several ‘edge data centres’ in rural and semi-urban areas to accelerate the pace of digital transformation and efficient digital delivery in such areas across the country.
Entailing an investment opportunity of around Rs 500 crore under PPP model, edge data centres would come up at 102 locations in the rail premises in tier-2 and tier-3 towns in the country.
Edge data centres are small data centres located at the edge of the network, where they are closer to end users and devices. Having such kind of facility at the edge would enable faster performance and lower latency as organisations will not have to move the data to far-flung data centres to process it.
Latency has always been a problem for data centre managers, but in recent times it has become a critical concern in view of wide range of next-generation applications like big data, the Internet of Things, cloud and streaming services, and other technology trends.
The process to establish these edge data centres has been set in motion with the floating of expression of interest (EoI) by RailTel inviting industry to be partner.
The prospective partners should be a company registered in India.
Under the proposed plan, initial capacity of the envisioned edge data centre at each location can be of around 20 racks (5 KW to 10 KW each).
However, edge data centre with variable rack and power density can be explored as per the requirement and availability of space, power and other factors at individual locations.
RailTel has over 9,300 points of presence (PoPs) and extensive optical fibre connectivity along the railway tracks and across the premises of Indian Railways, which makes the basic infrastructure readily available for the setting up of such edge data centres.
RailTel shall have the responsibility of providing the telecom/Internet connectivity to the selected business associate.
Data centre use for the railways critical applications like LTE, TCAS etc, shall be met on priority. Service offerings based on market requirements including health, education, skill development sectors will be jointly devised with selected partners, which may cover one or more basic service platforms.
Edge data centres will enable RailTel to deploy IT infrastructure for ‘caching’ of popular contents to improve the experience of RailWire broadband customers as cached contents will then be served locally instead of traveling long stretches of network.
Similarly, IT infrastructure for ‘peering’ with content players can also be deployed in these edge data centres which would improve cost economics for delivery of contents (eg YouTube, Hotstar etc.)
These centres will enable RailTel to improve resiliency of the network and help to improve customer experience of RailWire broadband services of RailTel. The current subscriber base of RailTel is around 4.4 lakhs and it will further rise sharply with the coming up of such edge data centre.
RailTel already has two US certified data centres in the National Capital Region (Gurugram) and Secunderabad.
Talking about it, RailTel chairman and managing director Puneet Chawla said, “With the help of such localised data centres, rural areas can be served with low latency applications related to digital skills, financial inclusions, digital literacy etc. The edge date centres will provide better experience and aid in adoption of digital services by the population of these areas and thus contributing to the digital economy.”
He further said, “the move will be another important step towards the path of digital transformation. It will also provide an opportunity to local professionally skilled manpower to participate in this transformation”.
RailTel, a railways PSU, is providing information and communications technology services and is one of the largest neutral telecom infrastructure providers in the country owning a pan-India optical fibre cable (OFC) network of 60,000 route km along the track. The OFC network covers important towns and cities of the country and several rural areas.