Cynerge improves data center services using a DevSecOps solution for the USFS

 

Customer Environment

Federal data center running Microsoft Windows Server and RedHat Linux Server

 

Industry

Information technology services, public sector

 

Challenge

Business services were impacted by CIO services that were perceived as slow, inconsistent, and highly frustrating.  Agile application development processes were stalled by slow operational procedures.  Application releases could take over 2 months.   Provisioning durations took up to 4 weeks and were error-prone.  Cynerge needed to implement a compliant solution for improving environment provisioning duration and consistency while maintaining security requirements.

 

Solution

Cynerge is a consulting firm located in Pontiac, Michigan that specializes application development, IT modernization, and IT asset management. Cynerge works with clients, like the USFS, which operate in industries with high standards of compliance. For this project, Cynerge developed agile operations procedures to achieve & ensure government compliance

 

As part of a large modernization project, the firm was tasked with modernizing the USFS’s data center service and retiring legacy data centers. Cynerge needed a solution that would enable application updates to meet business needs while also ensure operational readiness and security compliance.

 

While there were many barriers to this project, the biggest challenge was setting up and configuring data center services using a new hosting provider.  Provisioning of environments in the legacy environment took over a month to complete. The process was handled manually with multiple handoffs. This resulted in many errors and security vulnerabilities.

 

“The legacy processes in use by the USFS were suited to a legacy operating model that didn’t leverage the opportunities that agile and DevSecOps approaches offer”, said Matt Russell, President of Cynerge. “Tasks were handled via ‘swivel-chair integration’ and manual handoffs with a lot of downtime between the actual work”.  This created a lack of consistency in the process and longer than needed durations.

 

Using a solution built on ServiceNow, Puppet Enterprise, Github, and Jenkins, Cynerge helped the USFS break down the silos and streamline its provisioning process. This helped the USFS deploy changes to its applications on secure infrastructure services in minutes with more quality and less downtime.

 

Cynerge and its partners identified several gaps in the operational state.  A revised operational state process was defined and instrumented in ServiceNow. This enabled process consistency and transparency.  Github was leveraged to ensure all source code, for both application and the infrastructure configurations, were under version control and ready for reuse.  Puppet Enterprise was used to ensure the data center configurations were defined, controlled, and monitored.  Hosting environments can be configured quickly with Puppet while ensuring the ATO controls are consistently in place.  Jenkins, with test-driven development, was introduced to ensure application quality and timely builds.

 

Cynerge worked to implement the project in phases with the USFS team.  The end result was a substantial reduction in effort and duration for data center activities.  Tasks that routinely took weeks were reduced to minutes.

 

Results

  • Developed an automated process for provisioning software packages on virtual machines
  • Reduced provisioning durations from 4 weeks to 2 days, with technical tasks only taking minutes
  • Reduced application release tasks from weeks to minutes
  • Defined and implemented a consistent process for environment request and provisioning that improved quality by 45%
  • Developed infrastructure as code modules using Puppet Enterprise
  • Merged multiple data centers for its client, the United States Forest Service (USFS) of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Accelerated changes to applications on infrastructure services with better quality and less downtime
  • Improved security monitoring that ensures compliance with the USFS authority to operate (ATO)

 

Technologies Utilized

  • Puppet Enterprise
  • Jenkins
  • ServiceNow
  • Github