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.


azure-api-managementAIS’ CTO and noted Azure expert Vishwas Lele has a brand new course available at Pluralsight: Microsoft Azure API Management Essentials.

Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) are increasingly considered “engines of growth” and are already fundamentally changing the way organizations do business. In this three-part course, you’ll learn about how the Azure API Management service can ensure that your current and future APIs reach their fullest potential.

First, you’ll learn why you should use API Management, and how to manage your API with the Azure service. Next, you’ll learn how to protect your API with rate limits, plus how to add caching to improve API performance. Then, you’ll learn about policies in API Management and C#-based Policy Expressions. Finally, you’ll learn about security in API Management.

By the end of this course, you’ll have a solid understanding of Azure API Management, its key capabilities, and how to host and secure your API (both internal and external). Get started right now!

DevOpsDevOps is the latest catchphrase that everyone claims to be doing.

Gartner recommends that “leaders wishing to create a significant, lasting impact on IT performance should look to move beyond the Bimodal paradigm in the space of months rather than years.” Leading and executing on this cultural change is very challenging in enterprise IT. The urgency is to ensure your line-of-business teams remain engaged with enterprise IT, rather than deepening the divide between infrastructure operations and application development teams. In today’s rich marketplace for cloud-based solutions including infrastructure, platform, and software as services, application teams and line-of-business customers have options beyond traditional enterprise IT operations for hosting their solutions. Read More…

sxsw-2016Applied Information Sciences has been selected to participate in the South by Southwest (SXSW) 2016 festival being held March 11th through the 20th in Austin, Texas.

As a part of the Trade Show exhibition, our team will showcase the Scale data processing architecture as a component within a cloud computing solution.

The Trade Show highlights the integrations and overlaps between SXSW’s converging industries and hosts a diverse range of forward-thinking exhibitors – from promising startups to established industry leaders.

“This is a great opportunity to share and interact with the rest of the industry”, says Tony Wolf, Director of Special Programs. “We helped our clients foster the release of some great contributions to the open-source community this past year. This has opened new doors for us, and we’ve seen some exciting new web-based technologies emerge from those components. For instance, a large data processing architecture called ‘Scale’, which we helped build for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, has caught the attention of a prominent commercial data services provider, and we’re anxious to explore their vision for that product. As for our participation at South by Southwest, we’re excited to exchange ideas and build relationships with fellow attendees of the festival.”

The SXSW Trade Show, which coincides with portions of the film and music festival, hosted more than 70,000 attendees in 2015, and anticipates an even larger presence this year. The exhibit is open from 10:00am to 6:00pm on March 13th through the 15th and from 10:00am to 2:00 pm on March 16th in the Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Halls 2, 3 and 4.

Learn more about the Trade Show at SXSW. 

AIS’s Chief Technology Officer, Vishwas Lele, has been busy building the State of Delaware’s  Electronic Notarization System.  This system, built using Microsoft Azure, allows the state agency to meet all the compliance requirements and offers them a rich selection of platform and service components. In this video, Lele talks about the solution and why Microsoft Azure made technology and business sense for AIS and for the State of Delaware. Check out what he has to say!

vishwas