What does Leidos do? Part 4: Enterprise IT Modernization
What does Leidos do? In this series, we're exploring the science and technology behind the work we do for our customers. Today's interview features Enterprise IT Modernization. To learn more, we spoke with Doug Jones, a Leidos program manager who leads this technology area for the company.
Here’s what he had to say.
What is enterprise IT modernization, and why is it so important to Leidos customers?
We categorize enterprise IT modernization into seven core areas: (1) cloud computing, (2) user and customer engagement, (3) digital workplace of the future, (4) mobility, (5) application modernization, (6) DevOps, and (7) data center and network modernization. Those are the key things we deliver to our customers.
Enterprise IT modernization has become a critical piece that enables our customers to deliver on business and mission goals. IT used to be a back office type of capability. Now, it’s core to how we deliver functions. Modernizing IT is critical, because it allows our customers to perform more efficiently, provide better services, and better accomplish their missions.
, Enterprise IT Modernization Lead
Enterprise IT modernization has become a critical piece that enables our customers to deliver on business and mission goals.
Why was enterprise IT modernization selected as a technical core competency of Leidos?
We’ve been delivering on these modernizations on both sides of our heritage for years — both on the Leidos and Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions (IS&GS) side — and we’ve been very effective. We help our customers deliver desktop and mobile devices, build and replace existing systems, engage with their customer base, and on and on. Now we’re in a new age of analytics, cloud, and modern engagement technologies that you’re seeing in the commercial world. It is has also become foundational to so many capabilities we implement and help our customers implement, and represents some of our largest programs across the corporation.
What are some of the most important components of enterprise IT modernization?
User engagement is extremely important; it’s the core of what we do. How do we engage users in a seamless way? How does the user want to engage on mobile devices? Do they want to chat, or just search a knowledge base without having to engage? How do we more effectively engage with the users to be able to support their mission? These are core questions that cut across a large chunk of our solution set.
Another key area is DevOps. Cloud is very involved in DevOps, as well as application modernization. DevOps is really about looking at how you deliver things differently, focusing on reducing the handoffs between different groups, trying to improve efficiency through automation, reduced queueing time between steps in a process. It’s about being more efficient, and quickly reacting to a dynamic environment with less risk.
What are some of the top success stories for Leidos in this domain?
There are many in the intelligence community where we’ve done cloud, DevOps and application modernization all on single programs. We’ve taken legacy applications, migrated them to the cloud, and modernized them to take advantage of new architectures and technologies, loosely coupling the architecture from a services perspective, and bringing in more free and open source software (FOSS) technologies versus commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies. Then bringing in DevOps with automation and continuous integration and delivery to allow our intelligence community customers to react quickly to the demands of the world. There have been some key successes in that area with some of our key intelligence community customers.
For our work with General Services Administration (GSA) on the CAMEO program, we built a secure cloud platform using DevOps and automation that GSA can use for various applications. The solution has fully automated security stacks so the developers and infrastructure folks don’t have to recreate the wheel in standing up a database, application, or hosting environment that’s secure. It’s got all these configurations pre-made, and it’s all automated to quickly stand it up in less than a few minutes from start to finish. I think that’s been a significant success story.
Another success story is with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where we ran the customer’s desktop and computing environment. We’ve been rolling out office of the future, automation-type capabilities with them. There’s one where we set up voice automation in the conference room leveraging Amazon Alexa. The system responds to voice commands and automatically does things like set the room up for laptop projection. It automatically configures those pieces for you versus watching people fumble around trying to get the conference room set up. It’s all automated. We also rolled out a fully integrated and automated catalog for people to request new laptops, accessories, and cloud computing resources. We are working on bringing in kiosks where people can scan their badge to get a new mouse, headset, charging cable, etc. It’s basically like a vending machine. It’s really about new ways of engaging.
What’s the key to success across these various programs?
First and foremost, a true partnership with our customers. We see the most success when the customer is pulling as much as we’re pushing. We tend to incrementally evaluate technologies. We’re willing to take some risks, and we understand the ways to mitigate security concerns to try new technologies in a safe way. When you’re bringing in modernization, and it’s something unproven, it’s important to introduce the technology in a way that builds confidence and comfort. There may be some bumps along the road, but it’s important to take those in stride and work together. I think that’s been critical.
What gives Leidos an advantage over its competitors in this domain?
Our leadership and innovation culture is critical. Often you see a provider just doing whatever support the customer is asking for, as opposed to bringing innovation to the table, and I think that’s a differentiated strength we bring that only a few of our competitors are really focused on right now.
The other part is that we don’t just look at technology as a bright, shiny object. We really consider how it fits, and whether or not it brings value to the customer. A lot of companies bring technology just to bring the newest thing. Our groups and programs are so mission-oriented that we ask the question whether or not the new technology will actually bring value. It’s all about understanding the customer well enough to bring in the right new technology instead of just bringing in new technology for the sake of new technology.
What advice do you have for the market?
Start small. If you go in trying to modernize a mission critical system using DevOps with a million lines of code, those are times you might struggle. I’m a big fan of starting small, knowing there will be bumps, and continuing to pivot as you learn from each one. So get a small core set of people involved, solve some of the problems, and prove the value. Then you’ll start to see it snowball. This is true for technology adoption in general.
Image Credit: Icon adapted from thenounproject.com, under CC BY 3.0 US.