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How Booz Allen Hamilton is Helping Modernize the Federal Government with Kubernetes

The next time you book a campsite or activity at a U.S. National Park, thank Kubernetes for making it quick and easy. 

As part of the White House’s IT modernization effort, Booz Allen Hamilton’s Strategic Innovation Group started working with the federal government to “provide a better experience to citizens in every way that we interact with the government through every channel,” says Senior Lead Technologist Martin Folkoff. 

One of the first tasks was to relaunch the decade-old recreation.gov website, which provides information and real-time booking for more than 100,000 campsites and facilities on federal lands across the country.

The infrastructure needed to be agile, reliable, and scalable—as well as repeatable for the other federal agencies that are among Booz Allen Hamilton’s customers. “The only way that we thought we could be successful with this problem across all the different agencies is to create a microservice architecture, so that we could be very dynamic and very agile to any given agency for whatever requirements that they may have,” says Folkoff. 

Booz Allen Hamilton, which has provided consulting services to the federal government for more than a century, introduced microservices, Docker containers, and AWS to its federal agency clients about five years ago. The next logical step was Kubernetes for orchestration. “Knowing that we had to be really agile and really reliable and scalable, we felt that the only technology that we know that can enable those kinds of things are the ones the CNCF provides,” Folkoff says. “One of the things that is always important for the government is to make sure that the things that we build really endure. Using technology that is supported across multiple different companies and has strong governance gives people a lot of confidence.”

In addition to its work with the Department of Interior for recreation.gov, Booz Allen Hamilton has brought Kubernetes to various Defense, Intelligence, and civilian agencies. Says Chief Technologist Josh Boyd: “When there’s a regulatory change in an agency, or a legislative change in Congress, or an executive order that changes the way you do business, how do I deploy that and get that out to the people who need it rapidly? At the end of the day, that’s the problem we’re trying to help the government solve with tools like Kubernetes.”

For recreation.gov, the impact was clear and immediate. With the Kubernetes platform, Folkoff says, “if a new requirement for a permit comes out, we have the ability to design and develop and implement that completely independently of reserving a campsite. It provides a much better experience to users.” Today, changes can be implemented in about 30 minutes, compared to the multiple hours or even days legacy government applications require to review the code, get approval, and deploy the fix. Developers can create and publish new services to production within one week. 

Additionally, Folkoff says, “supporting the large, existing monoliths in the government is extremely expensive,” and migrating into a more modern platform has resulted in perhaps 50% cost savings.

Read more about how Booz Allen Hamilton is helping the federal government modernize with Kubernetes in the full case study. You can also read the Wall Street Journal article!