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September 29, 2021

Innovation in Public Health, Education, and Security at the AWS Summit

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Through our partnership with AWS, we attended the AWS Summit in Washington, DC. In the keynote, Max Peterson, Vice President of the AWS worldwide public sector, highlighted several innovative trends that we are looking forward to utilizing with our clients.


Max began his keynote with gratitude for AWS clients and partners who used their expertise with the cloud and modern technologies to respond to the challenge of the global pandemic. By encouraging remote work and highlighting the deficiencies of legacy systems, COVID has accelerated digital transformation by 3 to 5 years. It has forced us to innovate. Excella, and other AWS partners, have responded.


Improving Quality of Healthcare Service and Patient Outcomes


Many of those responses have involved public health work. To start, Max cited important wins like assisting Moderna with the rapid development of their vaccine and assisting vaccine distribution in 32 states. In India, the Co-WIN initiative vaccinated a record 22.5 million people on 27 August. Our own team has helped the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) further their vital mission by rapidly making COVID data available to decision-makers.


The introduction of Amazon HealthLake has the potential to make a patient’s history and data clearer to the hospital and the patient, improving overall clarity and quality of healthcare. What is Amazon HealthLake?  It’s a HIPPA-eligible service that can provide a complete chronological view of patient health data. With Amazon’s machine learning (ML) technologies, like SageMaker, information stored in the HealthLake can be used to identify trends and make predictions. HealthLake promises to improve the quality of service and patient outcomes. We’re excited to learn more about it and develop how it can help our clients deliver on their missions.


Preparing the Workforce for Cloud-Based Technologies


AWS has a goal of transforming the global workforce, so Max emphasized the importance of education and how AWS is contributing to skills development in the United States and elsewhere. The AWS re/Start program is a crucial part of this; it’s a skills development and training program that prepares participants for a career in cloud-based technologies. We’ve brought on some great graduates from similar programs and we’re excited to see AWS’s investment in this initiative.


Agencies Create Efficiency by Moving Off of Legacy Systems to the Cloud


Liesa Stockdale of the Utah Department of Human Services (DHS) Office of Recovery Services (ORS) joined Max onstage and shared a great case study. Her organization is responsible for child support payments and Medicaid transactions in the state of Utah. They were using an old mainframe system, written in Cobol and deployed in 1995. Liesa described how she and her colleagues took a “refactor and replatform” approach to convert the Cobol application to Java—with no loss of functionality—and move to the cloud. The effort was completed on schedule with no downtime. The new system is less expensive and can be brought up to date with modern design practices because it is written in a modern language. We’ve done similar work for our clients, like U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.


Lauren Knausenberger, the Air Force CIO, also joined Max for the keynote. She emphasized the work that has gone into Cloud One, a multi-hybrid-cloud solution that supports multiple classification levels and meets the needs of the Department of Defense. Lauren remarked that when she joined the Air Force about four years ago, they were a really good hardware company. Now, with Cloud One, they’re on their way to being a great software company. One of the signs of that is Kessel Run, a successful DevSecOps infrastructure being used by the Air Force.


Lauren used some DORA (DevOps Research and Assessments) metrics, like deployment frequency, to make her point. We were excited to see that, as we’re tracking the four key DORA metrics for every one of our client projects. We’ve been achieving the “elite” level of performance for years, and we constantly work to elevate our customers to the “high” or “elite” level.


Security is Pivotal to Growth in All Technologies


After Lauren and Liesa left the stage, Max returned to one of his major themes: security. He highlighted the FedRAMP authorization for VMware Cloud on AWS GovCloud, allowing VMware solutions to benefit from AWS cloud technology. He also mentioned that AWS had acquired Wickr, which provides secure, encrypted messaging services. We’re excited to see what solutions we can build around that technology as we help our clients meet the guidance contained in the President’s recent Executive Order on Cybersecurity.


These three themes—public health, education, and security—align very well with our work at Excella. We agree that the pandemic has challenged us and created new possibilities for using technology to achieve our goals. We’ve been helping clients realize their future through the power of technology for years, so we’re ready for this new phase.


Interested in more about how we’re taking an agile approach to AI? Interested in the biggest threats to ML security? Find out here.

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