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Container monitoring for VA Platform One helps VA achieve workload performance

At the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Dynatrace is helping VA monitor the development and testing of applications within VA Platform One (VAPO) containers to ensure teams are working better, safer, and faster.

Through containers developed within VA Platform One (VAPO), the development team at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is packaging application code along with its libraries and dependencies within an executable software unit. The containers can run anywhere, whether a private data center, the public cloud or a developer’s own computing devices. Dynatrace container monitoring supports customers as they collect metrics, traces, logs, and other observability-enabled data to improve the health and performance of containerized applications.

At Perform 2024, Matthew Fuqua, Technical Lead for VAPuO, sat down with Willie Hicks, Dynatrace Public Sector Chief Technologist, to discuss his team’s role in VA’s modernization journey—and how Dynatrace has significantly accelerated its progress while unleashing new capabilities.

What is VAPO?

VA Platform One (VAPO) is a comprehensive application development and delivery platform. The VAPO platform is used to develop, test, and deploy containerized application and middleware workloads that support 400,000 VA employees and 20 million veterans. VAPO relies on Dynatrace and its integration with Red Hat to monitor application development and testing within containers to ensure optimal performance and security.

“It’s an enterprise product that we use to help modernize the VA,” Fuqua said. “It’s one of our biggest modernization efforts, and it’s saving us money while providing better, quicker, and faster healthcare to our veterans.”

VAPO is available in both Microsoft Azure and AWS. It’s supported by the VA Enterprise Cloud (VAEC), a multi-vendor, FedRAMP High environment for hosting VA applications in the cloud.

VA Platform One enables rapid application development with “security first” oversight

VA Platform One provides developers with all the tools required to create, test, and push out applications swiftly. With VA’s heavy focus on security, the platform enables developers to incorporate security testing for applications during development. “In the development environment, you see exactly where in the pipeline security issues exist, and you can address them right there, so it speeds up development,” Fuqua said. “It’s easy to produce a container that we can rapidly test, then shift to pre-production and production. It’s helping us build applications more efficiently and faster and get them in front of veterans.”

Supporting application modernization with a focus on user experience (UX)

While VA is developing new applications, they also have monolithic applications to modernize. That modernization effort starts with Dynatrace. “We can look at user experiences and CPU memory usage over time,” Fuqua said. “Then, we can show our results once we containerize: what we’re saving, if the user experience is better or worse and, if not, we can improve that. We use Dynatrace as part of our migration pattern, so we can see how well we’re doing our jobs.”

With Dynatrace, Fuqua’s team has full observability of the applications themselves in a dashboard, so his team can make sure users are getting all they need. “We can log into an actual experience and it captures everything,” he said.

AI and automation simplify container monitoring and satisfy the “need for speed”

Container monitoring is inherently challenging because of containers’ highly dynamic nature. Dynatrace artificial intelligence (AI)-powered root cause analysis brings real-time insights and actionable answers to fix issues, automating operations so the VAPO team can focus on innovation. “We want to get to a point where we can identify something, then the platform automatically creates a ticket that goes to an approver,” Fuqua said. “If the approver says, ‘do it,’ then it schedules the action.”

With a consistent focus on UX, VA is leveraging synthetic monitoring to gain an accurate view of UX and then using automation to scale containers ahead of demand. “We’re using automation to kick off scaling events,” he said. “We want to be there in time.”

The veteran is the mission

As Hicks summarized, VA’s mission is focused on the veteran. “Your most important end user is the veteran,” he said.

The VAPO team appreciates how Dynatrace puts everything “all in one place” while making it so much easier to solve problems. “This is a continuous process,” Fuqua said. “You’re not going to wave a magic wand and have a container. With Dynatrace, we’re getting in there and doing things in phases and continuously improving.”

If you’d like to know more about how Dynatrace can help your government agency achieve this level of optimal performance quality, efficiency, and security, please contact us.

To hear the full story about how Dynatrace observability is empowering the VAPO team to overcome their challenges and achieve mission goals, watch the full session, Efficiency unleashed: VAPO’s dynamic approach to containerized workloads with Dynatrace.