Building an Infrastructure That Scales

A large federal law enforcement agency needed a collaborative IT infrastructure solution that would allow their enterprise environment to scale based on need. This agency has been a long-term client of AIS, and we have had the privilege of building out their server environment. Rather than building the environment at scale, we chose to build the environment with the ability to scale.

Background:

Oftentimes, organizations will build environments that they believe will serve future needs. This can be impractical, expensive, and unnecessary. It is akin to determining a solution prior to truly understanding a problem. AIS, instead, collaborated with our client to build a less-expensive, scalable platform that required fewer resources. As user adoption grew over time, the environment was scaled up to accommodate the needs of our client.

Challenge:

In a highly regulated environment, there are often access challenges that can slow down innovation and delivery. For AIS to build out a scalable environment, it was necessary to figure out how to overcome limitations with network and application accessibility. Compliance with certification and accreditation processes is paramount in a federal environment; without it, it is impossible to even work within the environment, let alone scale it or build applications. Security needed to approve and sanction every technical resource and application. To work in the client’s environment, it was necessary to provision the following:

  • Servers
  • Databases
  • Backup plans
  • Disaster recovery
  • Continuity of operations
  • Operations and maintenance plans
  • Capacity planning for disk space

Solution:

We built a unique platform that was scalable from not only a memory, computation and processing perspective but also from a project perspective; this was the differentiator. Rather than building out a SharePoint platform to host a single project or a few collaboration sites, we designed the solution to be able to accept new applications on the fly without retriggering the complete certification and accreditation process. The platform was certified and accredited, and the governance and security teams authorized the processes we followed to acquire additional resources and builds; periodic recertification of the environment looked only at the new applications that were added. This allowed us to build solutions in as little as six weeks. Historically, there was a waiting period for deployment of between three to six months, but that has essentially been eliminated now that it is no longer necessary to go through the process of recertification and reaccreditation. This platform allows AIS to work more efficiently to create solutions for our client quickly and deploy them to production with minimal delay; it can be used by entire organizations and for an workload within the established boundaries.

Technology:

  • Microsoft SharePoint 2013
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012
    • Always On High Availability Groups
  • Microsoft Windows Failover Clusters
  • Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services
  • Microsoft .NET version 4.5
  • VMware 6.0 with SRM for failover
  • F5 BIG-IP