The Department of Veterans Affairs’ journey to modernization

The race to fully adopt cloud applications is on, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is taking one of the most aggressive approaches to cloud transformation.

VA is the second-largest United States federal agency with over 400,000 employees supporting nearly 20 million veterans, overseeing almost 1,400 lines of business while balancing millions of data elements. VA is estimated to migrate 350 applications hosted on-premises and in external data centers to the VA Enterprise Cloud by 2024, making this one of the most ambitious digital transformations in the federal government.

Digital modernization is a necessary piece of the successful strategy of VA, and according to Dave Catanoso, Director of Enterprise Cloud Solutions Office (ECSO) at VA, the cloud is one of the catalysts to help accomplish that objective. During a recent webinar together, Willie Hicks, Federal CTO at Dynatrace, and Catanoso discuss how VAECSO’s leadership has engaged with ‘best of breed’ technologies to accelerate goals of cloud adoption, modernization, and ensuring operational effectiveness during this ambitious digital transformation.

On this journey to modernization, VA faced complexity but was able to build momentum in the transformation by successfully migrating 480,000 electronic mailboxes into Office 365. Working from that success, the agency decreased the often overwhelming complexity of cloud transformation through increased visibility. Using Dynatrace, VA can observe application performance and increase application visibility as well as determine application efficiency.

As it did for all agencies, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted VA in unique and unforeseen ways, speeding up the need for digital transformation. Remote VA workers went from 60,000 to nearly 200,000 in a matter of weeks, and telehealth visits increased from roughly 1,300 visits daily to an average of 30,000 each day. Throughout the pandemic, VA did not slow its push for cloud migration but instead followed an increasingly aggressive strategy.

With the cloud, developers can build more capabilities, more efficiently and responders can prevent or identify and fix problems faster. “It comes down to getting the best value out of your systems as well as your people,” Hicks says.

After pioneering some of the most ambitious cloud transformations our government has seen, Catanoso offers three pieces of advice:

  1. Have strong leadership
  2. Start small
  3. Get an expert team

Leadership in VA has enabled these projects with a deep understanding of the ultimate mission.  Starting small is important for building a strong foundation, and an expert team will provide the necessary platform for training motivated staff to execute each mission with pride and precision.

Watch webinar!

To hear more about VA’s journey to modernization, the full webinar, hosted by FCW and sponsored by Dynatrace, is available here.