Welcome!

Big Data Journal Authors: Saar Bitner, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz

Blog Feed Post

Well Engineered use of AWS by Recovery and Transparency Board (RATB)

By

After speaking with Shawn Kingsberry in preparations for our 4 April Government Big Data Forum I realized their use of Amazon Web Services (AWS) may be of very high interest to our readers and went about looking for more info online to see what was publicly available. I was ecstatic to see a well written use case for much of it is on the AWS website. That write-up includes a nice graphic that is helpful to understanding how things were done.

Since this is provided by AWS as a way of articulating their special contributions it does not go into the many other services and components required to make this work. But many of those components are probably modular and exchangable with other capabilities. So this overview is probably a great way to get a baseline on what the RATB architecture is.

With that, the following is from: http://aws.amazon.com/solutions/case-studies/ratb/

AWS Case Study: Recovery.gov and AWS Bring Transparency to the Cloud

The Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (RATB) was established when Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in February, 2009. To ensure against waste, fraud, and abuse, the RATB was tasked with developing a Website which met the following goals:

  • Provide easily accessible information to the public on Recovery spending and results
  • Promote official data in public debate
  • Provide fair and open access to Recovery opportunities
  • Enable public accountability for Recovery spending
  • Promote an understanding of the local impact of Recovery spending

The resulting Website is Recovery.gov.

The RATB originally intended to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) only for development, testing, and as failover, but, says Jim Warren, RATB Chief Information Officer, “When AWS outperformed our on-premises solution at a fraction of the cost, the prime contractor Smartronix and its lead sub-contractor Synteractive, provided a compelling justification for the RATB to host Recovery.gov on AWS’s platform.”

According to Mr. Warren, Smartronix selected AWS because of the flexibility provided by AWS’s Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) model; track record of providing infrastructure for large-scale commercial projects; focus on cost-effectiveness and a pay-as-you-go-model that allowed Smartronix to control costs; commitment to security and reliability; and its FISMA Low certification.

The RATB now uses the following AWS services: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon Elastic Block Storage (Amazon EBS), Elastic Load Balancing (ELB), and Amazon CloudWatch. The solution also combined multiple pieces of software.

The following diagrams illustrate their topology:

 

ratb arch diagram Well Engineered use of AWS by Recovery and Transparency Board (RATB)

Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board

Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing
The website uses Microsoft’s SharePoint as it content management system and all data is aggregated into a global dimensional data warehouse to facilitate time-based analysis and reporting. The solution leverages SAP BusinessObjects and Microsoft SQL Server for reporting services that show how and where the money is being spent. The BI tools enable ad hoc reporting and are instrumental in Data Quality and Data Integrity score-carding.

Advanced Geospatial Analysis and Mapping
The Geospatial tools, based on ESRI software, allow up to 5,000 concurrent users and enables them to go directly to go to their communities of interest at the state, zip, congressional district, or county level. Hundreds of thousands of addresses are geo-coded and aggregated to display total value for each area of interest. Thematic maps and multiple view selections were incorporated to help the user better visualize the data. These thematics include funding heat maps, unemployment heat maps, and diversity maps.

Mr. Warren notes that testing and development enclaves were procured and ready on Amazon EC2 within two days of the contract award. He says, “Our migration to the cloud took only 22 days from feasibility study to production.” The RATB has also enjoyed improved computer security, including greater protection against network attacks and real-time detection of system tampering. Mr. Warren says, “In essence, the security system of AWS’s platform has been added to our existing security systems. We now have a security posture consistent with that of a multi-billion dollar company.” Additional benefits include lower costs and ability to add capacity on demand. The RATB expects to save around $750K during their current budget cycle.

The success of Recovery.gov is being noticed outside of the RATB as well: Andre Romano of Newsweek wrote, “The current incarnation of Recovery.gov…is perhaps the clearest, richest interactive database ever produced by the American bureaucracy.” The site has been given the 2009 Merit award, the 2010 Gold Addy award for Website design, InformationWeek Government IT Innovator 2010 Award, an Award of Distinction during the 16th Annual Communicator Awards, and a second place Gold Screen Award from the National Association of Government Communicators. Recovery.gov is also an official Honoree for the Financial Services category in the 14th Annual Webby Awards.

To learn more see http://recovery.gov

 Well Engineered use of AWS by Recovery and Transparency Board (RATB)

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Bob Gourley

Bob Gourley, former CTO of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), is Founder and CTO of Crucial Point LLC, a technology research and advisory firm providing fact based technology reviews in support of venture capital, private equity and emerging technology firms. He has extensive industry experience in intelligence and security and was awarded an intelligence community meritorious achievement award by AFCEA in 2008, and has also been recognized as an Infoworld Top 25 CTO and as one of the most fascinating communicators in Government IT by GovFresh.

@BigDataExpo Stories
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
As enterprises engage with Big Data technologies to develop applications needed to meet operational demands, new computation fabrics are continually being introduced. To leverage these new innovations, organizations are sacrificing market opportunities to gain expertise in learning new systems. In his session at Big Data Expo, Supreet Oberoi, Vice President of Field Engineering at Concurrent, Inc., discussed how to leverage existing infrastructure and investments and future-proof them against e...
The Internet of Things is a misnomer. That implies that everything is on the Internet, and that simply should not be - especially for things that are blurring the line between medical devices that stimulate like a pacemaker and quantified self-sensors like a pedometer or pulse tracker. The mesh of things that we manage must be segmented into zones of trust for sensing data, transmitting data, receiving command and control administrative changes, and peer-to-peer mesh messaging. In his session a...
"Desktop as a Service is emerging as a very big trend. One of the big influencers of this – for Esri – is that we have a large user base that uses virtualization and they are looking at Desktop as a Service right now," explained John Meza, Product Engineer at Esri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gridstore™, the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built to optimize Microsoft workloads, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Gridstore™ is the leader in hyper-converged infrastructure purpose-built for Microsoft workloads and designed to accelerate applications in virtualized environments. Gridstore’s hyper-converged infrastructure is the ...
"At our booth we are showing how to provide trust in the Internet of Things. Trust is where everything starts to become secure and trustworthy. Now with the scaling of the Internet of Things it becomes an interesting question – I've heard numbers from 200 billion devices next year up to a trillion in the next 10 to 15 years," explained Johannes Lintzen, Vice President of Sales at Utimaco, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in San...
“We are a managed services company. We have taken the key aspects of the cloud and the purposed data center and merged the two together and launched the Purposed Cloud about 18–24 months ago," explained Chetan Patwardhan, CEO of Stratogent, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 15th Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
We certainly live in interesting technological times. And no more interesting than the current competing IoT standards for connectivity. Various standards bodies, approaches, and ecosystems are vying for mindshare and positioning for a competitive edge. It is clear that when the dust settles, we will have new protocols, evolved protocols, that will change the way we interact with devices and infrastructure. We will also have evolved web protocols, like HTTP/2, that will be changing the very core...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Creative Business Solutions will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Creative Business Solutions is the top stocking authorized HP Renew Distributor in the U.S. Based out of Long Island, NY, Creative Business Solutions offers a one-stop shop for a diverse range of products including Proliant, Blade and Industry Standard Servers, Networking, Server Options and...
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. But what about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today's databases are anything but agile - they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application an...
An effective way of thinking in Big Data is composed of a methodical framework for dealing with the predicted shortage of 50-60% of the qualified Big Data resources in the U.S. This holistic model comprises the scientific and engineering steps that are involved in accelerating Big Data solutions: problem, diagnosis, facts, analysis, hypothesis, solution, prototype and implementation. In his session at Big Data Expo®, Tony Shan focused on the concept, importance, and considerations for each of t...
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal S...
In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect at GE, and Ibrahim Gokcen, who leads GE's advanced IoT analytics, focused on the Internet of Things / Industrial Internet and how to make it operational for business end-users. Learn about the challenges posed by machine and sensor data and how to marry it with enterprise data. They also discussed the tips and tricks to provide the Industrial Internet as an end-user consumable service using Big Data Analytics and Industrial C...
More and more file-based and machine generated data is being created every day causing exponential data and content growth, and creating a management nightmare for IT managers. What data centers really need to cope with this growth is a purpose-built tiered archive appliance that enables users to establish a single storage target for all of their applications - an appliance that will intelligently place and move data to and between storage tiers based on user-defined policies. In her session a...
The emergence of cloud computing and Big Data warrants a greater role for the PMO to successfully manage enterprise transformation driven by these powerful trends. As the adoption of cloud-based services continues to grow, a governance model is needed to orchestrate enterprise cloud implementations and harness the power of Big Data analytics. In his session at Cloud Expo, Mahesh Singh, President of BigData, Inc., discussed how the Enterprise PMO takes center stage not only in developing the app...
Things are being built upon cloud foundations to transform organizations. This CEO Power Panel at 15th Cloud Expo, moderated by Roger Strukhoff, Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo conference chair, addressed the big issues involving these technologies and, more important, the results they will achieve. Rodney Rogers, chairman and CEO of Virtustream; Brendan O'Brien, co-founder of Aria Systems, Bart Copeland, president and CEO of ActiveState Software; Jim Cowie, chief scientist at Dyn; Dave Wagstaff, VP ...
There's Big Data, then there's really Big Data from the Internet of Things. IoT is evolving to include many data possibilities like new types of event, log and network data. The volumes are enormous, generating tens of billions of logs per day, which raise data challenges. Early IoT deployments are relying heavily on both the cloud and managed service providers to navigate these challenges. In her session at Big Data Expo®, Hannah Smalltree, Director at Treasure Data, discussed how IoT, Big D...
The cloud is everywhere and growing, and with it SaaS has become an accepted means for software delivery. SaaS is more than just a technology, it is a thriving business model estimated to be worth around $53 billion dollars by 2015, according to IDC. The question is - how do you build and scale a profitable SaaS business model? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Jason Cumberland, Vice President, SaaS Solutions at Dimension Data, discussed the common mistakes businesses make when transitioning t...
Amazon, Google and Facebook are household names in part because of their mastery of Big Data. But what about organizations without billions of dollars to spend on Big Data tools - how can they extract value from their data? In his session at 6th Big Data Expo®, Ali Ghodsi, Co-Founder and Head of Engineering at Databricks, discussed how the zero management cost and scalability of the cloud is addressing the challenges and pain points that data engineers face when working with Big Data. He also s...