The Cloud Becomes Your Launch Pad for Transformation

The Cloud Becomes Your Launch Pad for Transformation

For government agencies, the capability to deliver the appropriate amount of computing power and the right data to the civilian or military user at the point of need is a decision-making elixir

Calendar icon 07-01-2021
Profile photo Bob Ritchie

Cloud modernization frequently sounds like a goal in itself — just transition your systems and data to the cloud, then move on to other things. But the real goal is to augment your mission capabilities in transformative ways. Simply put, to be more competitive, more proactive, and more responsive, you need a robust, cloud-based environment — one that lets you utilize data to create smarter, more effective user experiences at scale.

What does this mean in real-world terms? For citizen services, it could mean that a single log-in connects a constituent to every service they need based on their most current information. So, Social Security or Medicare options can change with the user’s age; relevant FHA opportunities are presented to potential home buyers; and federal taxes could be tabulated throughout the year, making it easier to file returns and minimizing the opportunities for fraud. And every user of government services could enjoy a more intuitive, streamlined experience that matches their e-commerce expectations.

For the military, the opportunities are endless. The concept of digital overmatch — the ability to outpace and outmaneuver adversaries through superior, data-driven technologies — is crucial in this era of cyber-enabled conflict. The warfighter becomes part of the sensor grid, capturing and receiving information at the moment and point of need, from instant language translation to real-time situational awareness. At the same time, commanders can see the big picture or drill down to any element on demand, accelerating decisions by using accurate, timely information and denying adversaries of any advantage at every turn.

Without the ability to hyperscale, delivering computing power and data in near real time, these visionary goals wouldn’t be possible. But with an intelligently designed cloud strategy, they can quickly become reality.

Answering the “what if?” questions

Moving completely to a cloud environment does more than provide faster, more comprehensive access to data; it enables you to reimagine the kinds of services you can deliver with that data.

  • What if field agents - from FBI investigators to USDA inspectors - could have instant two-way access to all relevant records, with near-real-time analysis of a subject’s history across multiple sources as well as newly input information?
  • What if emergency responders could see situational updates, from weather and road conditions to the status of a wildfire or flood, that allow them to adjust where to deploy resources exponentially faster than ever? What if predictive updates could let them get ahead of emerging problems, such as where the fire will shift or which structure has the potential to fail next?
  • What if logistics and maintenance teams could better predict the life expectancy of parts under varying conditions, from deserts to jungles, to ensure that replacements are ordered and sent in time to keep vehicles, aircraft, and machinery fully operational?
  • What if elected officials could employ agile sprints for legislation, speeding up the process of developing and refining laws and regulations?
  • What if veterans’ health records could easily follow them across all providers, ensuring a higher level of care, and resources could be rapidly redeployed to meet evolving needs based on geography, demographics, and the availability of facilities, equipment, and personnel?

These are opportunities that can only be enabled through hyperscaling, which harnesses as much computing power as needed to ingest, correlate, and analyze data at mission speed. Physical data centers can’t match the scalability of a cloud environment without an unfeasible investment in facilities, servers, and power — a cost that is wasted every time you aren’t using every last bit of that computing power. The cloud, on the other, can scale in both directions on demand, ensuring you have the right resources for every requirement.


Physical data centers can't match the scalability of a cloud environment. The cloud can scale in both directions on demand, ensuring you have the right resources for every requirement.

Always available, always secure

Security is always paramount when dealing with information. There’s the risk to national security, of course, but also a risk to losing the trust of constituents and stakeholders — including employees — whose information is in your databases.

There’s a misconception that if all your agency’s data is in the cloud, it’s more susceptible to fraud, theft, or attacks by bad actors. The opposite is true; a properly designed cloud environment is actually more resistant to ransomware. All your data is more protected and more accessible at the same time; in fact, without the cloud, a zero trust architecture, and data labeling to ensure information is categorized and protected properly, it would be impossible to have this level of control.

From the perspective of personally identifiable information (PPI), privacy and visibility are not mutually exclusive — members of the public could have autonomy and control over their data as to where and when their information is shared. The benefit of the cloud-enabled future is that all of it can be software-defined, allowing changes to access and workflows to easily keep up with user demand and regulations.

Clearly, modernization is more than an end-state; it’s an essential step toward taking advantage of new technologies and transforming your operations, development, and decision-making. This begs the real question: where do you go after modernization? The answer is anywhere you can imagine.


Posted by: Bob Ritchie

Chief Technology Officer

Bob Ritchie is the chief technology officer for Science Application International Corporation’s (SAIC), providing technical direction and expertise for the enterprise modernization initiatives of SAIC’s customers.

In his role, Ritchie is responsible for the technology oversight of SAIC’s strategic roadmap and investments, continual learning culture, and engineering excellence across the company. In addition, he established the Cloud One Community of Practice and holds workshops and information sharing sessions to foster deeper understanding across the industrial base.

Ritchie joined SAIC in 2005 as a software engineer. He has led several agile teams in developing, modernizing, migrating, and operating resilient, highly available, enterprise-scale solutions across the DOD, IC, and Federal Civilian Agencies. Prior to his current role, Ritchie served as director of software engineering at Capital One, where he provided technical direction within an engineering organization of over 500 spanning multiple areas of expertise. He contributed to and guided the successful completion of major programs, including the enterprise migration of over 400 distributed applications from legacy data centers to 100% cloud infrastructure.

Ritchie is the chair of the Washnington Exec CTO Council, member of the Executive Mosaic 4x24 CTO Leadership group, and member of the StepStone Group Strategic Advisory Board.

Ritchie holds multiple agile, DevSecOps, and cloud certifications , is a two-time finalist for Washnigton Exec’s Cloud Executive of the year (2020 and 2021), and was named to Washington Business Journal’s 40 under 40 in 2021.

Ritchie earned his Bachelor of Science focused in Computer Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.






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