And in the IC, that means Amazon Web Services' (AWS) unique air-gapped cloud region built specifically for the community. Last month, we announced NJVC achieved AWS Advanced Consulting Partner Status, a reflection of AWS expertise and extensive hands-on usage.
To discuss what our latest achievement means for our partners and why migrating to the cloud in the IC requires unique industry expertise, we sat down with Kathy Hall, NJVC's director of cloud migration and hybrid IT transformation & optimization and Bill Cimino, director or partnerships.
Q: What does it mean to achieve AWS Advanced Consulting Partner status?
Kathy Hall: Earning AWS Advanced Consulting Partner status is a validation of our skillsets, our knowledge—we have more than 100 AWS certifications and accreditations—and our commitment to helping our customers define, deliver and realize the value of mission-focused cloud solutions.
It speaks particularly to our expertise helping Intelligence Community customers migrate into the AWS air-gapped region built specifically for the IC, which we’ve helped customers leverage since its 2014 launch.
Q: What are the benefits for our customers?
Bill Cimino: As an Advanced Consulting Partner, we are eligible for increased marketing development funding, allowing us to collaborate with customers and invoke joint thought leadership activities.
But most importantly, it’s a third-party validation of our capability to help federal customers in intelligence, defense and federal civilian agencies maximize the impact of cloud on their unique missions. It demonstrates to current and future customers that we can deliver what we promise. It’s a testament to our real-world execution experience, thought leadership and operational SLA excellence.
Q: What does Advanced Partnership recognition say about our cloud practice?
BC: When you look at the list of companies that are Advanced or Premier Consulting Partners, it’s a fairly small subset of the entire partnership program. If you filter by experience in defense and intelligence, it’s even smaller. What makes NJVC stand out is that, as a company of 1,200 or so employees, we’re a mid-sized organization among mostly larger companies. Achieving Advanced Consulting Partner status indicates the centrality of the cloud to our overall mission of maximizing the impact of IT.
For customers, it means access to a highly mature cloud practice with extensive IC experience, but without the complexity of management and lack of agility that often come with larger businesses.
We often say we’re transforming the IC in the era of cloud, and this is a good example of how high a priority delivering cloud capability is for us. We do more than say we're transforming the IC. We prove it.
Q: What are some of the challenges of working with customers in the IC and other secure cloud environments which may not exist in the commercial space?
KH: Because of the unique requirements of the Intelligence Community and many other national security customers, cloud migration requires a real understanding of the market. If you’re not familiar with the specific process of migrating into the IC’s air-gapped cloud region, or with the services and tools available, you can greatly slow your speed, increase cost, reduce efficiency or even fail to complete your project.
One of our lead engineers compares it to playing a baseball game. In a commercial environment, you show up with your equipment and play because the field is ready to be used, the umpires are there. There’s bases, dugouts, everything you need.
In an environment like the IC, many more elements must be provided before the first pitch can be thrown. You’ll need to build the pitcher’s mound, lay down the base lines and mark the infield. A lot of the core services you might take for granted—DNS or network time, for example—aren’t necessarily natively available.
So, we help customers take advantage of existing standardized services, more than 50 of which we’ve deployed ourselves in classified and unclassified versions. We provide standardization of services across government clouds and agencies. So in the IC, you don’t need 17 agencies building the same service 17 times. To return to the baseball game, you can all use the same field again and, by working with an IC cloud leader like NJVC, have that ready-to-play experience.
Q: What sort of benefits have customers with secure requirements seen since increasing the usage of cloud, particularly AWS?
KH: Increased visibility of IT performance across the enterprise. Improved analytics. Increased mission capability through better alignment of IT to mission need. Because the cloud delivers a more scalable, on-demand IT enterprise, we’re able to help our customers maximize the impact of IT on mission. We’re better able to align IT usage to need, so customers aren’t paying for IT that's idle. And when they need to spin up additional compute power, it's available. Cost efficiency goes well beyond just the savings of a cloud solution over ongoing maintenance of local hardware. Customers can save money—and better secure their enterprise—by reducing shadow IT as part of their cloud migration.
With cloud, we encourage customers to think beyond cost savings. That’s certainly a big part of why you should adopt cloud, but the scalability allows customers to better achieve mission. It’s the alignment of IT to mission that makes the biggest difference.
Q: How has NJVC improved in cloud migration, particularly since the launch of the IC’s AWS region?
KH: We’ve become faster and more efficient, developing Migration EngineeringSM to standardize cloud migration in the Intelligence Community. We’ve made managing integrated cloud environments more transparent through better monitoring. We’ve standardized cloud migration and management with the same commitment to security that we’ve had supporting the IC for 15 years.
So, when customers choose us for their cloud migration, they don’t have to choose between cloud migration and security or security and usability.
Q: NJVC has served as an enterprise IT provider in defense and intelligence since 2001, through what has been a series of changes in IT. Is the impact of the cloud evolution or revolution?
A: think it’s both. The evolution of the IT enterprise has been one of increased computing power with a decreased footprint; it’s been a history of greater capability, greater automation, greater support to achieve mission. In that sense, cloud is a natural evolution because it lessens IT spend and, of course, smartly reduces the IT footprint.