What is cloud computing and what are the security risks associated with it? Do you think it is helpful in improving the quality of governance? Discuss with examples. (150 W)

Mentor’s Comment:

This question has two parts. First one is factual asking about the cloud computing. Explain the meaning and prospects of Cloud Computing.

Next, mention about the security risks associated with it and how they can be vulnerable in data breach, how they can undermine the security of a nation etc…etc…especially with respect to India.

Further analyze how its effective functioning will help in improving governance mechanism in the country. Like reduced IT costs, reduced energy consumption costs, business scalability, collaboration efficiency, flexibility of work practices…etc. This will create the second part of our discussion. Bring example to support your points.

Further mention what India should do or have done to support cloud computing and to tackle the security threat associated with it.

Model Answer:

As per the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) of the US Department of Commerce, Cloud computing is defined as a model for enabling ubiquitous convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources.

The pool of shared resources include networks, servers, storage, applications, and services that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

The Internet is at the core of evolution of this technology. Cloud computing applications have become ubiquitous in India in recent years as they encompassed mundane activities of individuals like social networking, mail, online purchases as well as large scale operations of multinational companies including big data, Internet of Things (IoT), etc.

Despite of all the hype surrounding the cloud, enterprise customers are still reluctant to deploy their business in the cloud. Security is one of the major issues which reduces the growth of cloud computing and complications with data privacy and data protection continue to plague the market.

  1. Privileged user access. Sensitive data processed outside the enterprise brings with it an inherent level of risk, because outsourced services bypass the “physical, logical and personnel controls” IT shops exert over in-house programs.
  2. Regulatory compliance. Customers are ultimately responsible for the security and integrity of their own data, even when it is held by a service provider. Traditional service providers are subjected to external audits and security certifications. Cloud computing providers who refuse to undergo this scrutiny are “signaling that customers can only use them for the most trivial functions,”.
  3. Data location. When we use the cloud, we probably won’t know exactly where your data is hosted. In fact, we might not even know what country it will be stored in.
  4. Data segregation. Data in the cloud is typically in a shared environment alongside data from other customers. Encryptionis effective but isn’t a cure-all. “Encryption accidents can make data totally unusable, and even normal encryption can complicate availability.
  5. Investigative support. Investigating inappropriate or illegal activity may be impossible in cloud computing, because logging and data for multiple customers may be co-located and may also be spread across an ever-changing set of hosts and data centers.

By adopting a cloud-based IT strategy, governments can fundamentally change the way IT services are delivered and consumed while at the same time realize tangible operational and financial benefits-reduced costs, improved organizational agility and transformation in service delivery.

  1. Cloud computing can be used to facilitate “real-time e-governance” across the length and breadth of the country. For cities or towns lacking technological infrastructure, cloud computing can be a major boon because it enables quick project execution.
  2. Current internet penetration in India is eight percent and cloud computing if used strategically, can aid internet proliferation substantially.
  3. In addition, because of its ability to handle large number of transactions, citizens can look forward to better response times for the transaction.
  4. With increase in the economic growth, and all round development, and ever demanding citizens, governments are severely challenged in delivering key citizen services such as healthcare, education, public safety, transportation and utilities.
  5. Cloud computing can contribute in a variety of ways to deliver citizen services efficiently and enable IT resources to be provided on demand, at scale in a multi-tenant, yet secured environment.
  6. Today’s citizens expect services to be delivered along with a secure user experience. As a result, governments are under pressure to provide more efficient and effective citizen-centric applications and services, while also improving inter-departmental and cross-agency collaboration.
  7. To better serve their people, governments world over are being asked to transform costly and inflexible legacy infrastructures so as to increase workforce productivity and improve organizational agility. Balancing economic pressures and security, is another ask.

The benefits are as follows:

  • Scalability: Cloud computing resources such as CPU, servers, hard drives can be purchased automatically in any quantity at any time to fit growing number of users.
  • Availability and Accessibility: cloud computing applications and information are hosted online therefore it has high availability and citizens can use them at anytime and from anywhere.
  • Cost Saving: cloud computing systems do not need to purchase and install the ICT equipments and software on their own building .
  • Backup and Recovery: Since all the data is stored in the cloud, backing it up and restoring is much simpler than traditional way.
  • Unlimited Storage. Storing information in the cloud gives you almost unlimited storage capacity.
  • Green technology: Cloud computing is relatively good in energy consumption and provides eco-systems through virtual services


Cloud computing is actually working to help break down the barriers of many governments to enter new phase of collaboration and partnering, sharing services, and pooling of resources. It offers an effective way to share information between citizens, reducing efforts in providing services, budget management and cost effective.