India Enterprise Architecture: What is it and should it be made mandatory for all e-governance projects?

With IndEA there will be one personalised account for each individual and he or she can avail all government services from it

The Central government appears to have taken a leaf out of the Andhra Pradesh government’s book on the e-pragiti project and is planning to implement the India Enterprise Architecture (IndEA), a concept that promises a single window digitisation solution for its citizens.

The National e-Governance Division, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), has come up with a request for empanelment for organisations that are consulting for Digital India Programme, including India Enterprise Architecture, and will come into force after a new government comes to power at the Centre.

IndEA in common man’s language

IndEA seeks to simplify an aam aadmi’s life. An individual can book a ticket on the IRCTC website, check the status of voter’s card on the Election Commission of India website, register a company on the MCA21 portal, book an appointment for passport on the Passport Seva website, check the status of Aadhaar card on the UIDAI portal etc. Clearly, the offline queues will shift to online.

With IndEA there will be one personalised account for each individual and he or she can avail all government services from that personalised account. You would no longer have to visit separate sites and have separate logins on them to access government services. And, various e-queues will become a passé after the country adopts IndEA.

Andhra Pradesh govt’s e-Pragati project

Andhra Pradesh’s e-pragati project treats the state as an enterprise-of-enterprises. It is in the process of linking as many as 33 departments and 315 government agencies and aims to provide around 745 e-services to the people.

Technical Architecture of Andhra Pradesh’s government’s e-Pragati project

Technical Architecture of Andhra Pradesh’s government’s e-Pragati project

J Satyanaryana, chairperson, UIDAI, and also the IT advisor to the Andhra Pradesh government says, “We have created a core e-platform. Currently, applications are being developed for education youth services and sports departments. App store and the portal will be up and running soon.”

Need for IndEA

The need for nationwide enterprise architecture is felt because e-governance projects are standalone initiatives and rarely holistic. They don’t conform to standards as defined by the government but are an automated result of the existing processes. Even if new systems are built the legacy systems continue, leading to a mismatch in delivery of services. Besides, many existing systems are vendor-driven and they seldom interact with others.

IndEA provides a generic framework, comprising a set of architecture reference models, which can be converted into an integrated architecture, including ministries, states, government agencies etc. IndEA will be based on a federal architecture that will accommodate both greenfield (new) and brownfield (existing/legacy) e-governance initiatives. The framework consists of eight reference models such as Business, Application, Data, Technology, Performance, Security, Integration and Architecture Governance.

Dr Lovneesh Chanana, vice-president, Digital Government (Asia Pacific and Japan), SAP, says, “So far, the siloes for development and deployment have been the hallmark of our e-governance programme management, but IndEA can help achieve a seamless experience for a citizen.”

Paradigm of ONE Government

IndEA answers all of Dr Chanana questions as it is about a single e-entity for a citizen. IndEA’s vision is “to establish best-in-class architectural governance, processes and practices with optimal utilisation of ICT infrastructure and applications to offer ONE Government experience to the citizens and businesses”.

Satyanarayana, who is also the chairman of the government committee on Enterprise Architecture, explains the concept of one government, “Most of the services will be available on mobile (m-services) that are on the go. There will be a single app store or portal for all citizen services. Personalisation will also become possible. Certain concepts will eliminate the need for unnecessary documentation. IndEA’s interoperability will also vastly reduce the unproductive work for both the government and the people.”

Replication of projects

However, question mark lingers over the implementation of e-governance initiatives. Now, each state and government department are developing their own applications, leading to a lot of duplication of work. But, adoption of IndEA could lead to the evolution of centralised applications.

“The ease of replication will also address the requirement of horizontal transfer to avoid reinventing the wheel every time,” says Dr Chanana. The same sentiment is echoed by Satyanaryana.

Advantage of IndEA

Deepak Maheshwari, director, government affairs, Symantec, (India, ASEAN & China), puts IndEA in the economic context. “The government can work as a single enterprise, enhancing its technical and economic efficiencies. IndEA can significantly bridge gaps in institutional capacities besides acting as a common benchmark.”

Similar thoughts are echoed by Jaijit Bhattacharya, CEO & founder at Zerone Microsystems, “IndEA is a much-needed Government Enterprise Architecture, which will not only reduce the cost of building systems but will also ensure that they are better integrated and also increase the longevity of e-governance software assets.”

Dr Chanana agrees with Bhattacharya. “A unified government agenda is the need of the hour as it would improve the citizen’s participation and lay the foundation for emerging technologies like artificial intelligence. “

IndEA: Architecture of Architectures

Dr Pallab Saha, chief architect, The Open Group & President, Association of Enterprise Architects (India), weighs in on the e-concept. “The enterprise architecture’s role is pivotal to transformation as IndEA aims to become the core of Digital India Version 2.0.”

IndEA: An evolving process

The industry harbours a contrarian view of IndEA and wants it to evolve over a period of time. Maheshwari says, “Change must be constant as far as policies, technologies and user behaviour are concerned.”

The industry appears divided over whether the Enterprise Architecture should be made mandatory.

Bhattacharya says, “A wider adoption of IndEA remains its biggest challenge as similar initiatives in the past such as Open Standards initiative of MeitY have been thwarted. We may get desired benefits if IndEA is mandated at all levels of government.”

But, Maheshwari disagrees. He says, “It may not be pragmatic to impose the framework mandatorily across the board as systems evolve differently. For instance. If credible data is available, it would catch like a wildfire as people would appreciate its inherent value.”

The adoption of Enterprise Architecture has been explored by many countries, but it may take a decade to evolve.

So far, international success stories or benchmarks are few and far between. But, India is marching along with other developed nations in implementing the Enterprise Architecture to deliver public good.

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