Indian Coast Guard: Strengthening Coastal and Maritime Security Through Digitalisation

With its vision to become completely digitalised without compromising safety and sensitivity of its professional arena, Indian Coast Guard is on the fast track to becoming one of the most accomplished digital organisations in the Indian public sector

In this era of exponential technologies and rapid technological advancements, public sector organisations in India are ensuring that they do not get left behind in their digital transformation journeys. And the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has only added to the acceleration of these interventions.

The Indian Coast Guard is an Armed Force of the Union, primarily deals with Search & Rescue and Maritime Law Enforcement agency that protects India’s maritime interests and enforces its maritime law, with jurisdiction over the territorial waters of India, including its contiguous zone and exclusive economic zone. The Indian Coast Guard is a multi-mission organisation, conducting round-the-year real-life operations at sea. Despite being relatively small, it has a wide range of task capabilities for both surface and air operations.

Talking about how the recent changes brought about by technological disruptions and the pandemic impacted their digital transformation strategy, Amitabh Banerjee, DIG – IT, Indian Coast Guard shares, “Indian Coast Guard has successfully engaged IT-driven acceleration to ensure so as our daily operations are not affected because of the pandemic situation. Few of such initiatives are digital collaboration suites to ensure business continuity; IT infrastructure modernisation to improve capability and redundancy; effective endpoint security solutions to safeguard critical data, and organisationspecific COVID-19 application to manage symptoms/cases.”

Addressing pain points through digital

Technology imperatives have constantly been changing, and convenience and personalisation at all possible touch points are now on top of the government agenda. For Indian Coast Guard, starting their digital transformation journey meant addressing some key business objectives and pain points. “ICG envisages complete digitalisation without compromising safety and sensitivity of its professional arena. Delay in delivery of necessary hardware was the key reason holding back our maximum initiatives. Secondly, OEMs have to take more responsibility towards ensuring 100% satisfaction of the customer by leveraging the capabilities of their technology implementation partner with backto-back support. Fortunately, our technology partner VMware is doing it perfectly,” shares Banerjee.

There were some challenges that the Indian Coast Guard faced, as they set sail on their digitalisation journey, but they took timely steps to overcome them. Some of these were: IT campaigns and directives for awareness on technology evolutions and demand for its adoption; building confidence on advanced technologies at the organisational level by detailed deliberations and PoCs; sensitising end-user on cyber threats and safeguards; and finding interim solutions to meet immediate requirements, because new purchases were on hold due to the economic slowdown.

Adopting the best in tech with the best partners

As per Indian Coast Guard’s aim to become more digitised and to achieve the Digital Coast Guard drive as part of Government of India’s Digital India and Digital Armed Forces concept, some of the critical solutions adopted by ICG included:

  • Technologically advanced micro data centres at end units to strengthen the computing power including security and local survivability
  • In-house developed applications for automation of payment processes
  • Industry-standard IT infrastructure, including pan India network

Indian Coast Guard partnered with VMware to modernise its IT infrastructure and to provide a ‘one cloud’ experience across all its locations, including ships with the help of their VMware Cloud Foundation + Tanzu Kubernetes Grid, Cloud Backup Recovery, Velocloud, and NSX Advanced Load Balanced projects. Talking about how the journey has been for them so far, Banerjee says, “ICG chose VMware as a technology partner to achieve end-to-end digitalisation efforts not just because it has more than 50% share in the server virtualisation industry. ICG had studied each layer of its products and possibilities with an eye driven by our use cases, and we ensured all those products had proven their performance in our environment. So far, we are delighted with the technology stacks in production as well as the ones under implementation.”

Indian Coast Guard also partnered with VMware to secure its mobile devices and created secure corporate applications for all its employees. As per Banerjee, these deployments have eased, accelerated and secured communication and real-time decision making in ICG. “Mobile devices have become a part of our lives. They are easy to connect, collaborate and access official data also. Being in the duty of safeguarding our national assets, ensuring the safety of critical organisational information is also our top priority. VMware mobile application management platform has resolved the challenges we faced with cyber criminals. And their willingness to go an extra mile to address our specific concerns by engaging their backend development team has been commendable.”

A bright digital future ahead

The future is undoubtedly going to be digital, and ICG is already preparing for it. Shedding some light on their next technology adoption plans in terms of improving their digital initiatives, Banerjee says, “We would like to concentrate on optimised utilisation of our existing VMware technologies by engaging their active support first. Further, ICG is in the process of building its own Tier-III Data Centre, and VMware is expected to play a major role. Adoption of any technology should be requirement driven. ICG is validating all such products which are meeting our requirements. End-to-end automation and engaging Artificial Intelligence in our decision making are next in the list of our future digital plans.”

According to Banerjee, ICG measures the impact of its digital initiatives regularly, and some of the critical success metrics for them are seamless resource utilisation; zero downtime; ingrained security structure; containerisation of ICG specific applications; and cloud automation.