Report from the ATARC DevOps Working Group Launch

By Dick Stark

Last week I attended the ATARC DevOps Working Group Launch at the Department of the Interior. ATARC brings government practitioners together with Industry to discuss topics such as the role of security in DevOps, and cultural and organizational challenges to implementing DevOps. Attendance was excellent and so were the presentations. Here is a brief summary.

Dr. Brian Hermann, Services Development Executive, DISA opened the keynote by discussing the improvements that DISA has made in shortening the unreasonably long development cycle. Dr. Hermann relayed a story from not too long ago, about DISA’s typical dev cycle. “Back then, it took about three to four years, and what was delivered usually failed to meet the original requirements. Even if the needs were met, the reality was that it still took a long time.”

“DISA,” according to Dr. Hermann, “has made significant progress as a result of technical advances. Depending on the project it can take two to ten weeks to deliver software. Contractors, however, are being hamstrung by government cybersecurity practices. Security issues need to be overcome, or we will never get there.”

Dr. Hermann also mentioned the accelerated progress the Air Force is making with rapid deployments thanks in large part to Nick Chaillan, the Air Force’s Chief Software Officer, and his work at Kessel Run, where he has turned the Air Force into a software development powerhouse. The good news is that Nick is sharing his processes and tools, such as reusable containers with other DOD groups.

As a DISA contractor, RightStar is very familiar with DISA’s accreditation practices. RightStar’s DISA/Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) project, is entering its fourth year. The system in now live and doing well, but it took more than two years for the Nlyte system to be granted an authority to operate (ATO) by DISA.

Interestingly a later panelist, Simmons Lough, Software Architect at the US Patent and Trademark Office discussed the progress he and his team have made in shortening the development life cycle.  At USPTO, Simmons has moved from two production deployments per year to two per day. And with $3.5B per year moving through PTO’s financial systems, rapid deployments are a very big deal. Simmons credits his success in part to the utilization of automated testing.

Derek Weeks, ended the session by promoting his DevOps Days events. Derek is the co-founder of All Day DevOps, an online community of 65,000 IT professionals. This year’s big event is planned for November 12 with more than 150 practitioner-led sessions across 5 tracks. Last year’s event drew more than 38,000 on-line practitioners.

About dick1stark

I am the President, CEO, and founder of RightStar Systems, a leading ITSM and DevOps consultancy and BMC Software Gold Solution Provider and Atlassian Platinum Partner. My passion is customer success—whether it’s reducing the cost of service management, improving overall efficiency, or increasing end-user or employee satisfaction. Since founding RightStar in 2003, RightStar has made the INC 5000 list four times. In 2011, RightStar was awarded the prestigious National Capital Business Ethics Award (NCBEA) by the Society of Financial Service Professionals based upon RightStar’s foundation of honesty, ethics, and integrity. And in 2014, RightStar was selected by Forrester Research as one of 13 North American companies profiled in its ITSM Consultancy Wave Report. Finally, in 2019, BMC selected RightStar as its DSM North American Partner of the Year for its sales and partnership excellence. Dick is a graduate of Stanford University and a Project Management Professional (PMP).
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