Three models for cloud adoption in government

As we work with our government partners on cloud adoption, we’ve found that categorizing projects into these models based on approach and impact helps us maximize the value that cloud can provide.

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In Nava’s earliest days, we had to advocate for the use of cloud technologies that were already common in the private sector. Now it’s assumed. In 2019, a directive from the Office of Management and Budget called Cloud Smart offered “a path forward for agencies to migrate to a safe and secure cloud infrastructure” by providing actionable information and recommendations to shift government technology onto the cloud.  These days, cloud services are used by almost half of all government organizations. 

Government partners are now defaulting to cloud for new applications and adopting various cloud migration strategies for existing applications and workloads. Agencies are enabling integrations between cloud and on-premise data centers to pair cloud capabilities with rich data sources and legacy systems. These innovations allow government to improve services more quickly, adapt to shifting demands, utilize modern software best practices, and increase resilience and security. This is critical in order to build the kind of sustainable foundations necessary for government to withstand the shocks and crises to the systems that our unstable world demands.

As we continue to work with our government partners on cloud adoption, we’ve found that categorizing these projects based on approach and impact helps us align the work we’re doing with the different kinds of value that cloud can provide.  

Delivering cloud-native services with product teams

Government programs want to provide services that their constituents can use quickly, securely, and without surprises. Product teams deliver that value by building products or applications that deliver a service to users. These products may be used by external users like the public or by internal users, such as an API-based service that is used by other product teams.  

Many of Nava’s projects fit under this umbrella, including our work helping Veterans attend virtual tele-hearings to appeal benefits claims or building a paid family and medical leave program from scratch for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

When we build cloud-native applications for our government partners, we are supporting their cloud adoption efforts by delivering solutions that follow modern best practices. Taking advantage of cloud services provides scalability, efficiency, and security to government programs, and are built in transparent and maintainable ways. We ensure stable operations through our DevSecOps approach which uses automation to build security and best practices into the deployment process, in turn enabling frequent and stable deployments, high-availability, and compliance. This means that end users can trust that the services will be there for them whenever they are needed.

Creating efficiencies across products with platform teams

Programs with multiple product teams frequently seek to create efficiencies across their teams.  This enables product teams to devote more of their effort on delivering their mission and less on redundant toil such as solving the same problem repeatedly, operating multiple tools that do the same thing, or ensuring compliance across divergent architectures. 

Platform teams address these concerns by building platforms that enable developer productivity across multiple product teams, treating product teams as their customers. They provide tools, patterns, deployment pipelines, and other platform offerings that are created with standards and best practices built-in and used by many.

Nava’s CMS Medicare Payment System Modernization Operations and System Reliability Engineering (OSRE) project exemplifies this category. Nava’s teams are building and operating a Platform-as-a-Service offering used by 18 teams supporting the MPSM mission to create a flexible, scalable system that serves over 60 million Americans and accounts for 14 percent of the federal budget. Alongside CMS, our shared vision is to ensure that these critical systems are able to adapt to evolving Medicare policy and program needs, supporting a healthier, more equitable public. 

When our platform teams deliver and operate sound foundations which product teams build upon, we enable adoption of cloud best practices, shared tools, and common practices across whole programs. This sets them up for success by ensuring efficient, compliant, and secure infrastructure operations.

Realizing cloud benefits and cost effectiveness with enterprise operations 

Agencies seek to realize the benefits of cloud and maximize their cost effectiveness across all of their programs. While Platform Teams often focus more at the program level and often are not responsible for the deepest levels of technical operations, enterprise operations teams operate cloud or hybrid cloud infrastructure across an agency’s many components or programs. 

Enterprise operations support agency-scale cloud modernization and require a broader range of expertise and services. These include service management methodologies, a clear operating model, governance processes, and guiding enterprise architecture vision. Their ongoing efforts build resilience across teams, and a focus on reducing the compliance burden while maximizing security across the platform.

Nava’s IT Operations (ITOPS) and Cloud Navigator Services (CNS) work falls into this category, supporting CMS’s cloud program. These teams assisted the people and teams across CMS that build and operate applications, called Application Delivery Organizations (ADOs), migrate and operate their applications in CMS Cloud. We also provided assistance with patching, compliance, and background infrastructure to help teams and the agency as a whole maximize the benefits of  cloud platform. 

When enterprise operations teams provide stable platforms, predictable operations, clear and effective customer support, and an evolving suite of offerings that product teams love to use, they unlock transformation across the agency.

The work Nava does across these three project categories—product teams, platform teams, and enterprise operations—is helping to create the capabilities and foundations institutions need to build the effective, resilient public services of the future.

Written by

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Ed Mullen

Technical Solutions Director

Ed Mullen is a Technical Solutions Director at Nava. Ed is a strategist and designer with 20 years experience working on digital challenges across a variety of contexts and problem spaces.

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