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CHIPS Articles: NIWC Atlantic ‘team of teams’ receives prestigious award for accelerated cloud migration

NIWC Atlantic ‘team of teams’ receives prestigious award for accelerated cloud migration
By Kris Patterson, Naval Information Warfare Center Atlantic Public Affairs - April 14, 2021
A Naval Information Warfare Center (NIWC) Atlantic team received a prestigious award for achieving an accelerated cloud migration in groundbreaking speed.

The NIWC Atlantic-led Accelerated Migration Project (AMP) team-of-teams was named the 2021 Technical Project Team of the Year by Charleston Engineers Joint Council (CEJC) and Project Management Institute (PMI), the Charleston Chapter, during the CEJC Engineers Week Banquet on Feb. 23 at The Citadel.

The CEJC/PMI Charleston Technical Project Team of the Year Award recognizes an exceptional project team that exhibited the tenets of project management indicative of high performance in developing and implementing a technical project that has been well managed and delivered stakeholder value.

NIWC Atlantic’s AMP team competed against several local project teams, ultimately winning this award and being recognized for its extraordinary efforts accomplishing an accelerated migration of the Military Health System (MHS) Information Platform to Amazon Web Services (AWS) GovCloud by compressing 21 months of work into 16 weeks.

“The migration was the fastest move of an environment to the cloud in the federal government to date,” said Justin Fanelli, NIWC Atlantic AMP team project lead. “No previous cloud migration efforts within the federal government have matched the enormous scope, scale and complexities of the MHS Information Platform migration, making this effort an original pioneering effort in cloud transformation.”

The migration began in September 2019, but the need for an urgent accelerated migration arose in February 2020. In response, Fanelli developed a team-of-teams and led the group to design an aggressive migration plan that enabled them to accomplish this complex mission more than a year ahead of schedule.

The group, led by NIWC Atlantic’s Medical Information Delivery (MID) team, was a cross-functional, cross-organizational team of government employees and military members from NIWC Atlantic, Defense Health Agency (DHA) and Enterprise Intelligence and Data Solutions (EIDS) Program Management Office (PMO) within the Program Executive Office, Defense Healthcare Management Systems (PEO DHMS) and multiple industry partners.

The following NIWC Atlantic teams also provided supporting members: Defense Health Information Technology (DHIT) Division’s Health Systems Security Engineering, Clinical Infrastructure Modernization, Cybersecurity Service Provider, Defense Health Cybersecurity, Risk Management and Medical Operational Engineering, DHA’s Solution Delivery Division, Infrastructure Operations Division, Enterprise Services Architecture – Business Analytics Division, Cyber Security Division, and Program Resource Management Division.

The team-of-teams concept pulled in leaders and experts in data management; network operations; cybersecurity; cloud hosting infrastructure and operations; and AWS and cloud service approval. Team members from DHA and PEO DHMS provided technical and cyber leadership, feedback and coordination.

“The team had the right experts from every functional area to plan for and address challenges. They also had the critical support of executive and senior leadership from each organization to keep the project a priority,” said Sean Smith, NIWC Atlantic MID team lead.

The AMP team achieved the migration during the COVID-19 pandemic, navigating disruptions due to changes in policy, local school closures and implementation of a virtual team environment.

“Despite these challenges, the team remained on schedule and components of the team continued to develop software to meet other DHA mission needs, enabling the MHS to respond to emerging challenges of the global pandemic,” said Smith. “As a result, not only did the team achieve this record-breaking migration in an extremely condensed, hyper-accelerated schedule at a time when acquisition of cloud computing in the government sector remains a relatively new frontier, they also continued to deliver new capabilities necessary to meet the MHS’s COVID pandemic response needs.”

Cal Stephens, DHIT Division director, commended Fanelli and Smith for leading the entire team in executing a successful outcome under unprecedented conditions.

“Superior project leadership drove the teaming environment and shared vision of success that motivated members to work seven days a week for several weeks at great personal sacrifice,” said Stephens. “Strong, empowered leadership and the standup of the team-of-teams were critical to creating the successful cross-functional collaborative environment needed to overcome the numerous challenges of this accelerated timeline.”

The MHS Information Platform provides health data; business intelligence; health registries; dashboards; access to military medical readiness systems; service member health data repositories; health records; consolidation and centralized reporting of outpatient and inpatient data; and other critical information delivery capabilities for MHS clinicians, analysts, defense health leaders and military service medical departments.

“Through this successful government cloud transformation, the team has contributed to the cloud as a fundamental component of the global infrastructure that will empower the warfighter with data and provide improved decision making at the highest levels of the DoD related to the operational readiness of the military forces,” said Stephens.

Kevin Gerald, deputy head of NIWC Atlantic’s Shore Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Integration Department, congratulated the AMP team as he presented them the award.

“This team, who manages all the healthcare data for the Military Health System and its 9.6 million beneficiaries, performed an incredible feat by taking that amount of data and migrating it into an AWS cloud in record time,” said Gerald. “They not only demonstrated technical acumen but also program management prowess that yielded outstanding results.”

The AMP team has also received the following awards for the accelerated cloud migration: the Naval Information Warfare Systems Command (NAVWAR) Innovation Award for Business Model or Process; NIWC Atlantic Lightning Bolt Award for Team Excellence; sponsor-funded NIWC Atlantic You Made A Difference Award; FedHealthIT100 Award (Justin Fanelli); and the 2020 G2Xchange Disruptive Tech Award, recognizing federal leaders, innovators, game changers and disruptors who are leading and transforming federal information technology. The team was also nominated for the 2020 DoD Software Innovation Team Award.

As a part of Naval Information Warfare Systems Command, NIWC Atlantic provides systems engineering and acquisition to deliver information warfare capabilities to the naval, joint and national warfighter through the acquisition, development, integration, production, test, deployment, and sustainment of interoperable command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, cyber and information technology capabilities.

Deborah Gonzales, senior consultant, NIWC Atlantic's Defense Health Information Technology Division, contributed to this story.

Sean Smith, center right, lead for NIWC Atlantic’s MID IPT, accepts the Charleston Engineers Joint Council and PMI Charleston Chapter 2020 Technical Project Team of the Year Award on behalf of NIWC Atlantic’s Accelerated Migration Project (AMP) Team during the CEJC Engineers Week Banquet Feb. 23 at Mark Clark Hall Buyer Auditorium in Charleston. The AMP Team, which was led by the MID IPT, received the award for achieving an accelerated migration of the MHS) Information Platform to AWS GovCloud in groundbreaking speed. Also in the photo, from left to right, are Karl Krull, Charleston Engineers Joint Council chair; Cara Phieffer, Spin Systems deputy program manager; and Kevin Gerald, deputy head of NIWC Atlantic’s Shore Command and Control, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Integration Department. (Photo courtesy of Citadel Cadet Dashawn Costley/Released)
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