VA’s evolving IT infrastructure is vast, wide and can address any issue



As federal agencies slowly move away from the mainframe/data center model that once dominated their IT infrastructure, the hybrid, multi-cloud model has been elevated, while some smaller agencies are moving exclusively to the cloud approach.

The most recent addition to data workloads and virtual machines is edge computing. At the Department of Veterans Affairs, as you could imagine, IT is huge.

“We have seven core data centers. They’re the hub of our enterprise,” said Reggie Cummings, the Executive Director of Infrastructure Operations in the Office of Information Technology, Operations and Services at the Veterans Affairs Department.

“That’s kind of our focus. It’s to shore up those areas in terms of consolidation, because we also have a number of regional data centers that service a lot of our clinical regional requirements,” Cummings said on Federal Monthly Insights – Network and Application Modernization.

VA is maintaining some regional centers and closing others in order to move into its core data centers. Cummings also said VA’s cloud space is “pretty wide,” as well.

“When we do something with a regional data center, such as a closure, we prefer to move that workload cloud, otherwise we’ll move it into one of our core data centers,” Cummings said on the Federal Drive with Tom Temin.

VA has more than 40,000 network devices and over 145,000 WiFi access points that are tied to that regional and core-data-center construct, servicing over 2,000 American facilities.

Edge computing is an “evolving process” in the way VA works and plans workloads and application performance.

“It’s meaningful in the sense of our alignment to the mandates from OMB, in terms of data center closures,” Cummings said. “There are things that are sitting out at a VA Medical Center or regional office that look a lot like an edge computing system or model.”

So it is not 100% in gear, but the iterative process has begun.

“To the extent that we actually call it edge or have a consolidated strategy across the agency around standards, that’s what’s evolving,” Cummings said. “We don’t necessarily have that, but we’re starting to use that nomenclature internally and building out that muscle to start to push that conversation.”

Like so many other federal agencies, VA utilizes a multiple commercial cloud approach.

“And as we look and have need to consider additional options and offerings based on our use cases, we have the ability to do that. We don’t omit any other CSP, it’s just that we had to start out with something and those met most of our requirements,” said Cummings.

“But as we kind of evolve and look at other things and other dynamics, then, you know, we have the instrumentation and the plumbing, so to speak to bring on other CSPs as our requirements and our business model dictates.”

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