Government has selected Zoho to handle email services instead of NIC

The Union government has selected  Zoho to handle email services and a host of other internet-based office products. This is the first time a private contractor is being roped in to handle government digital services.

The government plans to rope in third parties to take on some of the responsibilities currently handled by the National Informatics Centre (NIC), the government’s IT department, which experts have said has struggled with the scale of the task and a host of legacy issues that have meant lax cybersecurity.

In response to a public tender published by the Digital India Corporation (DIC), Zoho has been shortlisted on the basis of competing bids, according to a letter of intent for procurement 

Zoho will provide “at least 2,000,000 users with scalability up to 5,000,000 users” a secure email solution; provide productivity tools such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation; phase-wise migration of existing emails; incident management, helpdesk support, training, and deploy required manpower.

According to an official familiar with the matter, office productivity tools will move to Zoho. “Earlier there was a provision for two companies, but only one was selected after technical shortlisting. The decision has been done in order to better secure internet solutions and cybersecurity,” the official said, asking not to be named. “Some solutions will stay with NIC, the migration will happen over time and both the systems will function in parallel for some time.”

The cost of services has been set at ranging from ₹170 (without taxes) monthly per user for standard email with 10GB storage to ₹300 monthly per user for enterprise email. For productivity tools, the rates have been set at ₹50 per user monthly without taxes.

Currently, NIC hosts 3.3 million email accounts. Established 1976, the National Informatics Centre maintains the local area networking and their larger connectivity across over 8.000 locations, maintains about 8,000 government websites, and supports over 1,600 e-governance users/applications under Digital India.

Questioning the process, an officer who did not want to be named, said that “with these rates, the cost of standard emails alone for 3.3 million users will be over ₹650 crore every year, which is much higher than what is spent on the NIC”.

Bringing a private player to host email services for government offices assumes significance after the past three years recorded a slew of high-profile cybersecurity breaches. The latest among these was a ransomware attack at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), where five servers — maintained by NIC — were compromised and 1.3 terrabyte (TB) of data, including patient records, was encrypted, effectively making them useless.

Zoho will provide “managed secure mail services along with additional office productivity tools and software solutions such as word processor, spreadsheets and presentations, web and video conferencing solutions along with chat in a cloud-based environment, on the terms and conditions as stipulated in the said tender”

The company outbid six other firms, including Infosys, L&T, Railtel,, CTon Enterprises and Softline Services India, to get the contract.

Extracted from Hindustan Times
Full Article : 

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post