With the rapid adoption of technology in the country today, the need for a centralised government data hub has long been recognised.

In order to address the issues of cyber security and to provide efficient and effective online public services, geared towards fulfilling the vision of becoming an ICT-enabled society, the Government Data Centre (GDC) was launched yesterday in Thimphu.

Occupying a space of 2,500 sq ft at the Bhutan Innovation and Technology Centre at the Thimphu TechPark, the GDC will enable a whole-of-government transition in ICT that would ensure strategic integration and better efficiency across government agencies.

The centre is equipped with high-end servers and all the necessary facilities such as a precision cooling system, power redundancy, monitoring, a secure environment with disaster recovery and fire-protection system among others.

Department of IT and Telecom (DITT) project officer, Nidup Gyeltshen, said that the centre is fully built on virtual technology, which will enable faster deployment of services.

He said that the system is a TIER-2 Data Centre and provides 99.741 percent availability, which translates into 22 hours of downtime per year, which is substantially high compared to current standards.

So far 22 critical government systems such as civil registration and finance procurement including Government-to-Citizen, Government-to-Business and Government-to-Government services have been migrated to the centre.

The centre has a current capacity of 50 terabytes, of which 60 percent is currently in use. Nidup Gyeltshen said that the system is scalable and the capacity can be increased based on requirement.

“From a technology standpoint, GDC supports mobility, provisioning on demand, scalability, virtualisation and the flexibility to respond to fast- changing operational situations,” he said, adding that other benefits of the centre includes economy of scale, security, more optimal storage management and better performance. It also minimises duplication of work and effort.

Before the introduction of the centre, all data was stored by government agencies in their respective server rooms. DITT director, Jigme Thinley Namgyal, said that as a small nation with a compact government, Bhutan cannot afford inefficiencies and compromise security. “This data centre will address both security and data archiving concerns promoting optimal utilisation of government resources.”

Information and communications ministry’s secretary, Dasho Karma Wangchuk Penjor, said that as the country moves towards ICT-isiation of its governance and economy, the data centre project is a priority project of the government.

“With the centralisation of data, we hope to achieve more efficient usage of our data and our experts, limited as they are in the ICT sector, towards achieving economies in storage, management and most importantly towards cyber security issues that have been emerging even in a small economy like ours,” said Dasho Karma Wangchuk Penjor.

The project is a part of the government’s e-governance master plan. Built at a cost of Nu 120 million, the project is funded by the Government of India under the Project Tied Assistance.

Younten Tshedup