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Veterans Affairs Platform One speeds cloud app development — GCN

Veterans Affairs Platform One (VAPO) is an enterprise-class internet hosting service that containerizes purposes, permitting builders to provision environments as wanted utilizing infrastructure-as-code (IAC). The containers have templated, pre-approved options in-built, together with safety controls. That speeds authority to function evaluations, and the general platform cuts break day utility deployment cycles.

“At core, it’s a shift to help application teams focus on their applications, and we help with the back-end integration to the underlying infrastructure resources from those technology domains,” mentioned Kendall Krebs, senior technical adviser for infrastructure operations in VA OI&T’s DevSecOps group and a senior sponsor on the VAPO effort. “Essentially, make the software-delivery process easier on the software team so they focus on the code..”

Application groups that wish to shift to VAPO simply need to ask the VAPO staff, which evaluations the appliance after which helps arise the setting. “A long-term goal is to have preconfigured environments that we just need to make slight modifications on,” Krebs mentioned. So far, three environments are queued up for manufacturing, three are within the proof-of-concept part, and 5 are in analysis and discovery.

VAPO is a part of VA’s IT Hosting Modernization effort. The division has about 100 purposes, Krebs mentioned.

“The VA Platform One team is one of the options for custom-coded applications,” he mentioned. “Our compelling offering to the application team is you don’t have to do this for yourself. We have an enterprise-ready solution with security baked in that’s faster than you doing it yourself. We have the licensing and technical expertise to get you there.”

Also compelling are the 2 methods containers present effectivity, Krebs added. One is thru the lightness of the containerized internet hosting setting, and the opposite is the usage of IAC, which will increase parity amongst utility environments: development, testing, preproduction and manufacturing. Teams can spin these up and down as wanted, and that means to show off sources has a possible for price financial savings.

Those are advantages from a developer’s perspective, however the platform itself may be scaled, too, mentioned Matthew Fuqua, senior technical lead on VAPO. “We’re building our clusters from code,” he mentioned. “That allows us to have consistency whether it’s on-prem or in the cloud.”

Another side of VAPO is dashboards that present prices, utilization and different metrics that IT leaders can use to make data-driven choices. Currently, the staff can not quantify the efficiencies utility groups are gaining from VAPO, however Krebs mentioned that measure can be obtainable as extra purposes get into manufacturing.

Studies of private-sector use of containers reveals promise. A February Forrester study discovered that comparable options reallocate 33% to 90% of infrastructure administration labor and speed up development cycles by as much as 66%. With implementation of this expertise, the VA Infrastructure Operation’s Franchise Fund staff estimates annual server and infrastructure administration labor price financial savings of about $48 million. The present prices are about $65 million per yr.

The thought for VAPO happened in 2019, when builders started researching different organizations’ profitable DevSecOps transformations and observed that this sort of internet hosting permits a steady integration, supply and deployment pipeline, Krebs mentioned. One inspiration was the Air Force’s Customer DevSecOps Platform, “a collection of approved, hardened Cloud Native Computer Foundation (CNCF)-compliant Kubernetes distributions, infrastructure as code playbooks, and hardened containers.”

Looking forward, the VAPO staff has its eye on cloud-native options. “VA Platform One was designed to work both in the cloud and in traditional data centers,” Krebs mentioned. “As we go forward, we’re going to be looking closely at some of those cloud-native solutions that are out there or potentially using some of the integrated solutions with the cloud providers as part of our solution set.”

It’s additionally working to shift extra clients to the platform. “Of course, we’re going to continue to market ourselves so we can reach additional customers, so we can provide this benefit to pretty much everybody in the VA,” mentioned Dwight Maloy, product supervisor for internet hosting and provisioning and answerable for standing up and implementing VAPO.

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