Helping Government Thrive in the Application Economy

This interview with Steve Mazzuca, Director of Application Delivery at CA Technologies is an excerpt from our recent Guide to DevOps in Government 

The application economy – where everything is delivered as a service to drive professional and personal behavior – has overtaken the private sector. Now, government is getting into the service game. “Every CIO, every director, every leader in an agency has to think about how they deliver services and in an application economy the question is how do I deliver everything digitally, faster, securely, and with better quality” said Steve Mazzuca of CA Technologies, a leading software and solutions provider to the public sector.

To create those digital solutions, many government organizations are turning to agile workflows infused with the collaborative techniques of DevOps. However, the public sector faces unique challenges to adopting this process, particularly as it relates to privacy and security concerns within and among agencies. How can an organization embrace a transparent, collaborative development process while protecting sensitive information in a lengthy and rigid procurement structure?

From CA Technologies’ perspective, the key is to provide a better integrated tool chain beginning with a graphical logical business process map of the requirements linked to the data for test data management. This allows the team to visually map all test scenarios and then automate the test creation, optimize the number of test cases needed, and provision the data needed to test from either masked production data or synthetically generated data.

The second piece of this puzzle is to create a model or simulation of a dependent system or application. This allows development and test teams to run integration, regression and even performance tests against “virtual services.”

The final area is automation. You must build in as much automation as possible all along this tool chain. This means looking at release orchestration tools and moving away from heavily scripted environments.

Creating Real Test Environments

“The Intelligence Community is moving quickly to embrace all of this. They have the need to test in unclassified, lower environments against production like data and systems.” Mazzuca explained. “They need to simulate systems, produce synthetic data, and automate the release and deployment process.”

“In addition, health agencies and DoD agencies are also using technology to test against simulated versions of systems not available to them for testing. This is critical to the future to interoperability of electronic health records,” he added.

By using synthetic or masked sensitive information, developers and operations staff can collaboratively work with life-like code and data. That allows teams to test and understand the real implications of their development decisions, rather than working in an approximate environment that doesn’t show the full impact of potential changes.

That creates more reliable, secure projects. “We build security all the way through the process. It’s not at the end of the road that we do security,” said Mazzuca.

Reducing System Complexity

Every day we see examples of applications or services in production failing due to lack of proper testing. In most cases, this is because the test teams did not have the proper data available to test. CA Technologies’ approach is to create a test data warehouse where testers are able to find and reserve data on demand.

“This concept is very new and exciting to our government customers. Traditionally they have relied on DBAs to create test data in a very slow and methodical process. Now as business requirements change, teams can quickly pivot and set up automated tests with the correct data providing a greater amount of test coverage. This allows agencies a huge amount of risk reduction,” said Mazzuca.

Delivering Better Services

Ultimately, this technology-enabled approach to DevOps allows teams to create the best solutions possible for both the organization and end user.

Model-driven development with fake data, emulated environments, and automated processes allow for faster throughout, lower risk, less security hassles, and better services to the war fighter and U.S. citizen.

As government workers and contractors focus less on overcoming internal obstacles, they can focus on identifying and remediated service errors – ultimately creating the best service possible for their users. Mazzuca impressed that this emphasis on service elevation, rather than simple delivery, is key if the public sector is going to keep up with the expectations of citizens in an application economy.

“From our perspective, the application economy is not simply a new buzzword but truly a transformational movement in the way services are delivered around the world, both to us as consumers in the commercial sense and as citizens, veterans, warfighters in the public sector sense,” said Mazzuca. DevOps, empowered with the innovative tools and services of CA Technologies, allows organizations to delve into that service-focused movement and truly serve citizens.

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