Insight by Presidio

“Automate first, automate everything:” The solution for rapid scaling in response to the pandemic

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Thanks to the pandemic, the nature of work for federal agencies changed almost overnight. Agencies are now attempting to meet the challenges of a remote workforce that they’ve never had to meet before, with the added pressure of a drastically compressed period of time to respond. They need secure solutions that can be rapidly deployed across the network, then scaled back down as the response to the pandemic begins to wane.

And those solutions need to be mission-focused. Agencies need a way to keep delivering services to their constituents no matter where their employees are working from, and under any conditions.

“This is now part of the business continuity plan for any agency, but now with what’s happened over the last three months with COVID19, that telework presence part, that sliver of the plan has now been expanded to almost the entire plan,” said Chuck Griffith, DoD Capture manager at Presidio. “And eventually, that part will reduce, but it will now be more predominant as part of the plan versus just a sliver. It’ll probably be more than half of the solution for that plan.”

That’s why Presidio cultivates an “automate first, automate everything” culture, according to Manny Evangelista, Digital Solutions Architect at Presidio.

“Through that automation, we’re able to rapidly respond to those kind of changes in our environments and things like the rapid changes everybody has been working through, and the way we automate, our big differentiator, is we do it in a secure fashion,” Evangelista said.

None of the problems currently faced by agencies, he said, are particularly new. What’s new is the scale. Before, agencies might face networking, storage, and compute surges of around 10% overnight. Now agencies are being forced to scale far beyond that, but in a similar compressed time frame.

“That is our expertise, when it comes to how to scale mission critical systems and mission critical infrastructure,” Evangelista said. “And in promoting a modern way to architect also on the application level as well, because when it comes to applications, some of these new ones have to increase their scale overnight like telehealth, like these telework systems, they were architected in a legacy monolithic-type architecture, which does not scale very well.”

In fact, Presidio has recently helped some of our customers improve their telehealth systems in the face of the pandemic. They also helping customers boost their online and mail services so that it wouldn’t have to send enumerators into danger. Each agency has different needs according to their mission, and Presidio’s assessment process helps target those needs and determine priorities. In addition, Presidio is supporting citizens at the border with call centers technology that gives them up to date travel information for easy entry and exit into the Country.

“We have a migration assessment process where we look at individual specific workloads, because the way we work with federal agencies to modernize is that we never promote a big bang, lift-and-shift-everything or refactor everything type migration or modernization,” Evangelista said. “It’s a very phased approach where we identify specific workloads, like low hanging fruit. And then we basically modernize those little pieces. And those are the things when you put them into microservices or containers, or these modern workloads and infrastructure, you’re able to have the flexibility and the agility to scale those individual workloads individually, without having to recopy and rescale the entire legacy, monolithic system.”

Evangelista said they also look at where agencies are with their remote workforce, and where they have vulnerabilities.

“Previously, they may have had maybe 10, 20, or 30% of their workforce having to work remotely. Now it’s like 80, 90, 100%, and is your workforce now working in the most secure way fashion?” Evangelista said. “Is it following cybersecurity standards such as NIST? Are you using the most secure configurations? And if you are using some of those industry collaboration tools, are you using them in a secure fashion? Is a spike in scale too much for you to monitor?”

Once Presidio has determined that, it creates a roadmap to mitigate those issues. Most of the time, that means repeatable, automated solutions, something Presidio has extensive experience with due to its extensive background in network engineering.

“Presidio has been supporting Federal Agencies for 30 years, and we bring the best technology for the customer to provide mission assurance and to provide that continuity,” Griffith said. “We also provide the personnel to make sure that the customer is confident with our solution set, and that the customer has the ability to continuously rely on us as a partner in their mission success. And it goes beyond the pandemic; it will go into the mission mentality for the foreseeable future, not just the next two or three months.”

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