Meetup Replay: Advancing Digital Government in the Cloud

Karina Homme

This guest blog post is written by Vishwas Lele from Applied Information Sciences (AIS). AIS provides software and systems engineering services to government agencies and businesses across the United States. They specialize in cloud services, DevOps, custom application development and IT services. For additional information please visit

It’s no secret that cloud computing is empowering organizations to deliver better government faster. This idea of advancing digital government was indeed the theme of our last Meetup in July 26 Microsoft Azure Gov DC Meetup at 1776 in Washington, DC with more than 90 industry and government professionals turned out to share best practices in the cloud.

The Meetup was also livestreamed using Azure Media Services. You can watch the recording here.

Our first speaker was Guy Cavallo, deputy CIO of the Small Business Administration. Guy presented a very inspiring talk titled “82 Days: How SBA Went from Cloud Launch to ATO in Less Than 3 Month.” Guy kicked off his presentation with the rationale for SBA to move to the cloud. It became clear to Guy and his team that aging data centers requires a significant recapitalization to modernize. Additionally, the move from an asset-based culture to a service-based, customer-centric delivery model necessitated a nimble and agile approach to IT. This led to SBA’s cloud first strategy designed to improve the mission and business effectiveness, and reduce IT operating costs.

Next, Guy shared the organizational setup he put in place. He underscored the importance of an executive sponsor to a cloud transformation project. He talked about creating five scrum “tiger” teams including: Service Management, Service Engineering, Service Automation, Migration and Cloud Operations.

After the team structure discussion, Guy talked about the high-level architecture for the SBA Cloud including cross-cutting concerns related to security and management. His team came up with an innovative idea of creating an X-Tier as a “parking lot” for on-premises assets, that have been moved to the cloud, but, waiting on additional analysis / transformation, before being inducted into the production tier. This approach allowed SBA to start evacuating the on-premises data center without waiting for the all the cloud refactoring to be complete.


Finally, Guy provided insight on how he funded this cloud migration initiative given the challenges of SBA being continuing resolution and there being no earmarked funding for this effort. Once again, Guy came up with creative ways to fund this effort. He requested modifications to the existing contracts. For example, he changed the existing break/fix contract to Azure support. He redirected savings accrued from reducing the term of existing contracts (hardware and software) to fund the cloud effort.

Guy ended his session with an impactful bottom line message (pasted below) – Cloud transformation is ultimately designed to deliver better and cost-effective services to the small businesses of America!

Following Guy was Susie Adams, CTO, Microsoft Federal @AdamsSusie. Susie talked about Emerging Tech: How Blockchain is a Powerful Tool for Government

Susie started out by asking the question “what is Blockchain?” She explained that Blockchains are like a trust boundary between business entities. This trust is established by creating an immutable transaction chain to maintain history. An example of the transaction chain (See below) is the how the validity of each transaction is based on the validity of the previous transaction, which is shared.

Next Susie talked about Blockchain – “state of the world.” She explained how it was too expensive and long to create even a PoC. Furthermore, most customers are in PoC or learning stages. She also talked Microsoft’s Blockchain vision and strategy including the support for Enterprise Ethereum blockchain alliance.

Susie then presented a compelling example of how Blockchain can enable an intelligent connected ecosystem to deal with massive problem 52 million+ recalls in just in 2016 within the US.

Susie ended with very insightful message – Blockchain is only small part of the overall enterprise integration problem. While customers may think that all they want is a blockchain powered ledger, what they will ultimately end up with is an ecosystem of components to support the ledger.

The final session was presented by Colin Stevenson, senior manager, Pivotal. Colin presented “Red Pill or Blue Pill? Hybrid Cloud, Multi-Cloud, or Both?”

Colin started out with an introduction of Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) – Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) is cloud native platform for deploying and operating applications. PCF can run on-premises, atop many public cloud providers. In this manner, PCF is a uniform way to launch and quickly iterate on applications without having to worry about how to deploy, scale or expose apps. As a specific example, Colin talked about the challenges in setting up a multi-cloud setup. As shown in his slide below – there are different setup options to choose from. PCF simplifies such a setup because of built in data replication.

Next Colin talked about customer examples including Defense Innovation Unit (DIUx) and 18F.

Finally, Colin talked about how PCF is hosted on Azure and available through the Azure marketplace.

As always, the meetup ended with another round of networking and lively conversation amongst the attendees and speakers. Hope you can join us next time!

Be sure to join us for our next Meetup!


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