At a glance
people rely on CMS for healthcare services
applications can be run via CMS’s new self-service cloud ecosystem
per year saved by updating just one logging tool
Helping CMS better serve millions of people
Nava is building an intelligent, self-service cloud ecosystem that provides CMS teams with everything they need to design, build, and launch modern services. At the same time, we’re also effectively operating their existing cloud infrastructure—which supports CMS’s websites and applications, including HealthCare.gov and Medicare.gov—to serve the more than 149 million people who rely on those services.
CMS is ahead of the curve with cloud modernization in the federal government: according to a report from the Government Accountability Office, as of April 2019, only 11 percent of federal IT systems were running in the cloud. As CMS migrates out of traditional data centers, the hundreds of engineers, managers, and other stakeholders at CMS will reap the benefits of having their applications in the cloud, which offers secure, compliant, flexible, and cost-effective ways of managing applications and data. Teams will be able to work in the cloud how, when, and where they want, get support if and when they need it, and see what they’re spending in real time. And in turn, the people who rely on CMS for healthcare payment coverage will also benefit as CMS is able to more rapidly evolve and adapt to people’s needs in a changing world.
CMS is ahead of the curve with cloud modernization in the federal government… as of April 2019, only 11 percent of federal IT systems were running in the cloud.
To ensure that CMS Cloud is accessible to everyone who may need it, we applied a human-centered approach across all of our engineering and design work, beginning with documentation and onboarding.
Starting with small, simple pieces
Cloud.cms.gov provides CMS Cloud customers—Business and System Owners, Contracting Officers, and Application Delivery Organizations (ADOs)—with all of the information, tools, and support they need to successfully migrate an application, build a new application, or operate in the cloud.
To move quickly and safely on a large project like this, we work iteratively by launching small pieces and then improving on them. We launched the first version of cloud.cms.gov as a text-based website that provided a high-level overview of CMS Cloud. The simple structure was easy to update so we could continue to make improvements while also saving engineering resources until we really needed them—when the platform became more robust and interactive.
Over the next year we enhanced the website, creating more than 100 pages of technical documentation and contextual information. The increasing amount of relevant, accurate information helped CMS staff see the website as their go-to source for everything about working in CMS Cloud. As more people used it, we iterated on the design, structure, and navigation to make it easier to use and understand. As one example: Readers can filter articles—by the content type (article, overview, training, video) or by the stage they’re at in using CMS Cloud (learning about, onboarding, or operating)—to quickly find information that’s most relevant and useful to them.
Katherine Brewer of CMS describes it:
We now have an efficient, distributed content publishing model, a higher-quality build and more scalable operations, as well as a more visually engaging site…As a result, customer experiences drastically improved.
Removing obstacles to support faster adoption
To ensure moving to the cloud is as easy as possible, we audited and redesigned the onboarding experience of CMS Cloud customers. This was a first step toward automating the process. We started by documenting the existing process and all of the places customers were asked to provide information. Then we determined which were relevant and redesigned information-gathering across the touchpoints.
We minimized redundant information, centralized important information, and proactively captured and verified necessary information to reduce cognitive load for CMS Cloud customers. While this effort has already helped customers start using the cloud more quickly and easily, it’s only the beginning of our efforts.
Our engineers are now in the process of automating the onboarding process, as well as other service provisioning. This will allow CMS Cloud customers to start working even more quickly—sometimes in a matter of days—or adopt new tools and services when they’re ready. More efficient onboarding and service provisioning means that CMS can spend more time focusing on their mission, and less time on administrative burdens.
Fostering innovation over the long term
Teams at CMS have long recognized that migrating to the cloud isn’t just a technical undertaking—it’s also a cultural change that requires new working norms. To help foster efficient working practices, we’re building a centralized authenticated workspace within cloud.cms.gov. This means that CMS Cloud customers can sign in and access shared services, tools, and real-time information about the systems and applications they’re working on.
As we did when first designing and building cloud.cms.gov, we’re using an iterative approach to create the authenticated workspace. In its first iteration, the workspace consists of a dashboard that aggregates links that take customers to the tools and services they’re using and provides cost information to Business Owners. As customers use the workspace, we can collect data about how they interact with the links to inform our improvements. In the future, the dashboard will also provide high-level information about their systems’ health, functionality to manage teams and access, and the ability to manage current services and adopt new ones.
Teams at CMS have long recognized that migrating to the cloud isn’t just a technical undertaking—it’s also a cultural change that requires new working norms.
CMS Cloud continues to expand the shared services offered, providing tooling that enables a modern DevSecOps approach. Providing easy-to-adopt tools for logging, monitoring, automated testing, and security scanning enables CMS to scale modern development practices, which also eases the burden of compliance and saves teams time and money. Once we set up a service or tool, every CMS Cloud customer can simply use it—they don’t have to spend time and resources to find, set up, and manage it on their own. For example, previously, customers who needed a logging tool would find, implement, and maintain one on their own. Now everyone can simply use an industry-leading logging tool to schedule regular maintenance and reports. This upgrade alone will save CMS more than $12 million annually.
CMS currently runs approximately 160 applications in the cloud. By iteratively rolling out shared tools and workspaces, we hope to help them dramatically scale the work they can do and triple the number of applications CMS is running in the cloud. Helping CMS use the cloud more efficiently for secure, compliant, flexible, and cost-effective ways of managing data will help them better serve the millions of people that rely on them for healthcare payment coverage.