AWS Public Sector Blog

ATF migrates to the cloud: “We’re all in.”


The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is currently migrating their systems to a cloud architecture. Mason McDaniel, chief technology officer at ATF, spoke with Government Matters at the AWS Public Sector Summit in Washington, DC about the status of their current cloud migration efforts.

“We knew we wanted to move to the cloud from day one. There is no government datacenter that can compete with the security, scalability, and the efficiency of the cloud,” said Mason.

As with many others organizations, for ATF the question of moving to the cloud is not “why?” – but “how?” When preparing for cloud migration, ATF needed to analyze its applications to determine which ones were cloud-ready and which ones were not. For the ones that are not cloud-ready, they created a strategy to get their applications to run in the cloud.

“We have a terrible history of trying to pull out an individual system in isolation and modernize it. All those interconnections you know about and don’t know about have really just caused those to fail most of the time. We decided this time, we wanted to try to tackle a huge part of our infrastructure and pay off the technical debt that we’d accumulated over 10, 15, 20 years of not investing in our IT and get us up to a common modern technology baseline,” McDaniel said. “The only way we could really do that at scale efficiently enough and quickly enough to make a difference was we flipped it. We tackled the entire data tier of every application we had – built out an AWS enterprise environment to host all ATF apps. We migrated all the data (development, test and production data) into Amazon Web Services and got our full security approval to operate.”

Watch the full interview with Mason McDaniel to learn more about ATF’s cloud migration strategy, the importance of automation, and how IT modernization helped them modernize their mission.

Interested in learning more? Listen to the Mission critical cloud: Federal government episode of the Fix This podcast.