Recently I had an opportunity to sit down with Steve Michelotti, Program Manager on the AzureGov team and talk about a Machine Learning (ML) application we built for a federal agency. This application is great example of how AIS leverages the latest innovations on the AzureGov platform to build applications that align with agencies’ missions – and go beyond IT support to directly assist in meeting the mission objectives.

Specifically, this application was designed to help analysts get personalized recommendations (based on their own preference settings, ratings provided by their co-workers) for stories they need to analyze as part of their daily work.

Brent Wodicka from AIS described this application in an earlier blog post. Read More…

In an article on Defense One this week, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan put out a call on behalf of the Pentagon:

We want you — to get us into the cloud much faster.

We need the private sector’s help to vault DOD into the world of elastic computing and machine learning.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but AIS can definitely do that. In fact, we already have! And we have an entire cloud adoption framework and strategy specifically designed for the Department of Defense.

Navigating DoD organizations through complex cloud migrations is never an “easy” task, but the AIS DoD Cloud Adoption Framework is built on a solid foundation of compliance, best practices and lessons learned from countless successful commercial and DoD secure cloud migrations.

A few other benefits, while we’re bragging here:

  • Don’t Stop at Lift and Shift: AIS can take your existing lift and shift cloud efforts and transform them into PaaS and SaaS options for advantageous use of new Cloud technologies.
  • AIS Cloud DoD-ready Blueprints: Ensure your compliance with DoD STIGS and L2, L4 and L5 baselines from the start.
  • AIS Templated DoD Business Cases: Ensure you meet all the requirements for DoD’s internal governance processes and quickly gain ATO approval to move to the cloud
  • AIS Automation Capabilities: Reduce your costs and speed your migration of
    your systems into the cloud
  • Sustainment Operations: AIS manages your Cloud investment, leveraging new
    Cloud services increase efficiencies. Your continued success is our passion!

From the Defense One article:

This rapid adoption of cloud infrastructure and platform services is not the end, but a beginning: laying a foundation that can revolutionize how DOD deploys information technology services, develops advanced capabilities, and unleashes the power of agile computational resources and advanced data analytics.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! Let’s get started.

Earlier this week, my colleagues and I attended the 2017 Microsoft Government Cloud Forum at the Ronald Reagan building in D.C. This invitation-only event discussed topics such as IT modernization, cybersecurity, mobility, shared services, citizen engagement, and workforce management, all of which are top-of-mind these days for government employees.

AIS spent the day with Microsoft, government leaders and other partners, as we collaborated on how to both innovate and deliver more efficiently and effectively.

Lots of exciting news came out of the event, and we wanted to take a quick second to go over some of the bigger announcements: Read More…

AIS’ principal solutions architect Brent Wodicka stopped by Federal News Radio for a discussion on DevOps with  Federal Tech Talk’s John Gilroy.

They were joined by Nathen Harvey, VP of Community Development at Chef Software, and David Bock, DevOps Services Lead at Excella Consulting. Each offered a unique and practical perspective on the concept of DevOps and how it’s working for federal government IT.

You can listen to the full show over at Federal News Radio!

AIS is proud to announce we’ve officially joined the Microsoft FastTrack for Azure program! Microsoft FastTrack for Azure provides direct assistance from Microsoft and a Microsoft partner to help customers build their desired cloud-based solutions with maximum speed and confidence. AIS will work side-by-side with Microsoft engineers to guide our mutual customers from setup, configuration, and development to production, focusing on the following Azure solutions:

  • Development and test
  • Backup and archive
  • Disaster recovery
  • Line of business applications (database migration, app modernization, app “lift and shift”)

The FastTrack program will guide you through the three key phases of a successful cloud journey: Envisioning, onboarding, and deployment to quickly realize the business benefits of moving to Azure. It’s a process we here at AIS know very well, so we’re looking forward to helping even more customers take their first steps into the cloud.

Ready to get started?

FastTrack for Azure is available to select Azure customers in the United States, Canada and Australia. You can find out more here or contact us for more information.

 

 

How do you get better uptime than the cloud? Two clouds!

AIS’ CTO Vishwas Lele stopped by the .NET Rocks podcast this week to talk about our experiences building ultra-reliable applications, both on-premises and in the cloud.

The discussion digs into the decisions around reliability – it’s easy to want it, but will you pay for it? It’s important to calculate the cost of downtime, as that helps set the budget for what it takes to stay up. And that leads to a conversation about how you build highly reliable software – it can’t just come from the infrastructure, there is code involved as well! And the next question is – how do you make your app work in two different clouds?

Listen to the full show at the .NET Rocks! website here.

Yesterday AIS’ VP of Business Development Larry Katzman sat down with Federal Tech Talk’s John Gilroy on Federal News Radio to discuss how federal IT professionals can innovate in a constantly changing environment..and with a shrinking budget.

The discussion starts off with a common theme — today’s younger generation is accustomed to programming from an early age.  When they show up for work at an agency, the expect to be able to “fire up” environments to test code.

Everyone wants to unlock this spirit of innovation – but there are certain restraints. For example, you may use a system that only needs a credit card to get started.  This can result in “drunken sailor syndrome.”  In other words, you may blow your annual budget in the first week if you are not careful.

From there, the conversation moves into the issue of “Rogue IT” or “Shadow IT,” where users sign up for cloud offerings on their own and completely bypass the CIO. AIS actually offers a solution to this one: CloudCap, a system where users are granted access to thousands of enterprise class applications that can be managed. Much like “managed services,” the CloudCap system allows both the user and supervisor to know how much is spent and when.

For more information about CloudCap, click here.

You can listen to the full interview over at Federal News Radio.

 

 

AIS recently completed work on a complete revamp of the Texas Workforce Commission’s “Texas Reality Check” website. Texas Reality Check is an Internet-available, fully accessible, responsive, mobile-first and browser-agnostic design. This website was tested for accessibility, performance, vulnerability scans, and usability.

Background

Texas Reality Check (TRC) is targeted at students on a statewide basis, ranging from middle school to high school (with some colleges and universities making use of the tool for “life skills” classes). The goal is to inspire students to think about occupations, and prepare for educational requirements so they can achieve the income level that meets their lifestyle expectations.

This tool walks students through different areas of life, on a step-by step-basis, identifying budgets associated with living essentials such as housing, transportation, food, clothing, etc. Students make selections and then calculate a corresponding monthly income that would afford the selections they make. From here, the students are directed to another page and connected to a database on careers and associated salaries.

However, the existing site was dated and in need of improvements in three core areas: UX, Accessibility, and overall performance. Here’s how AIS delivered:

Read More…

It’s 2017 and it’s official: Government agencies want to move to the cloud. But they are often unprepared for the transition, or stuck in the middle of a confusing process. So this week, AIS and Microsoft kicked off the new year with a terrific AzureGov Meetup full of valuable information, training resources and demos on exactly where and how to start a successful government cloud journey.

The full line-up of cloud experts includied David Simsik, Cloud Practice Manager at AcceleraDan Patrick, Chief Cloud Strategist at OpsgilityBrian Harrison, Cloud Solution Architect at Microsoft, and AIS’ own Vishwas Lele, who presented a demo of the AIS Service Catalog offering, which is specifically designed to ease cloud adoption for government agencies.

See below for some photos of this (packed!) event and a video of Vishwas’ Service Offering presentation. For future DC AzureGov Meetup dates and details, go here. We hope to see you next time!

(Check out our Cloud Adoption Framework for more on how AIS can take you step-by-step through the Cloud Journey here.)

AIS recently worked with the General Services Administration (GSA) Technology Transformation Services Division, better known as 18F.  The engagement involved working with 18F to digitize the Department of Labor’s Section 14(c) certification application process (part of the Fair Labor Standards Act). This is currently a paper-based process that 18F hoped to modernize as an intuitive, online application…and to do it using agile methodologies.

AIS was tasked with building the first version of the digital form within a 60-day period of performance – much shorter than typical federal contracts.  AIS pulled together a multi-disciplinary team comprised of user researchers, designers, and front- and back-end web developers to work closely with 18F and the Department of Labor (DOL) Product Owner. The team built the entire form with complex validation along with a registration and login and an administrative section to process the form applications. They performed multiple usability tests with actual end users, and followed 18F’s principles of working in the open using a public GitHub repository. All User Stories and discussion threads were thoroughly documented in that repository’s issues list.

AIS was able to work together with many divisions inside DOL to make this happen.  We addressed security concerns by the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and worked with the CIO office to coordinate delivery of the application and a testing and staging environment for deployment. We also set up a Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment process so that multiple DOL stakeholders could stay abreast of what was happening and exercise the existing application state.  We were even able to address legal concerns with testing by external citizens by getting signed consent forms for testing and recording the sessions.

The collaboration was so successful that our client wrote their own blog post on the project, detailing exactly “how government and private industry can work together using agile methodologies to produce great results.” You can read it here. 

These types of successful, agile engagements break down the myths that software development for the government needs to take months (or even years). Government can and will move faster, and after every small win like this project, the traditional methods of building software and procuring software development are changing across the industry.  This bodes well not just for the citizens who need to interact with these digital services… but also for saving our tax dollars.