BAE Systems AI upskilled employees to meet customer demand for AWS expertise
BAE Systems Applied Intelligence (BAE Systems AI), a division of multinational arms, security, and aerospace company BAE Systems, is an AWS Premier Consulting Partner in the AWS Partner Network and provides consultancy-services products and helps customers solve complex cybersecurity problems across multiple sectors, including defense, national security, government, and financial services. Many of its customers specifically sought expertise from Amazon Web Services (AWS), but before 2020, few staff members had the relevant skills or AWS Certifications. Moreover, the company couldn’t arrange the needed level and volume of training on its own.
To address this, BAE Systems AI enlisted the help of AWS Training and Certification via AWS Select Consulting Partner QA to create customized course offerings to help train BAE Systems AI staff. QA is an AWS Training Partner that provides AWS Training and Certification courses to a wide range of private- and public-sector customers. It delivers 70% of cloud training in the United Kingdom. The ongoing AWS Training from QA is enabling BAE Systems AI to upskill and onboard employees, retain customers, and win new business.
Architect and developer training and certification
To meet the rising demand and to satisfy the terms of AWS Premier Consulting Partnership in the United States, BAE Systems AI identified 300 of its 3,000 employees for AWS Training and Certification. The company needed help planning, organizing, and implementing this amount of training quickly. QA arranged appropriate course offerings aligned with two primary learning pathways: one for architects and one for developers.
“It can be difficult for people to look at a wide range of digital training courses and determine which ones are relevant to them,” said Phil Armitage, head of systems engineering and architecture profession at BAE Systems AI.
The architect pathway helps learners become proficient in building and optimizing information technology infrastructure on AWS by understanding how AWS services fit into cloud-based solutions. The pathway begins with an introductory course called AWS Technical Essentials, which covers terminology and concepts related to AWS and provides an overview of foundational AWS services and security measures.
Intermediate coursework in the architect pathway covers the fundamentals of building information technology infrastructure on AWS and prepares learners for initial AWS Certification. Advanced coursework expands individuals’ knowledge with experience in designing applications on AWS.
The developer pathway targets software development and covers how to use AWS Software Development Kits (AWS SDKs) to develop secure and scalable cloud applications. More advanced coursework covers how to refactor legacy applications into a serverless microservices architecture.
After completing their training, BAE Systems AI employees can take AWS Certification exams.
From March through November 2020, QA ran at least one course per month for BAE Systems AI. About 16 people filled each class, whereas before, BAE Systems AI could only train two or three employees at a time.
As of April 2021, 300 employees have been through training and 10 have become AWS Certified. BAE Systems AI anticipates that more employees will attend training and become AWS Certified in the near future.
Thus far, most of the training has been along the architect pathway. Moving forward, BAE Systems AI plans to focus on the developer pathway and offer its employees opportunities in topics like SysOps, business essentials, and DevOps.
Shifting from hybrid to virtual training during the pandemic
QA originally offered in-person courses with a remote option that enabled employees in different locations to attend. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, BAE Systems AI and QA adjusted quickly to virtual training. Having the hybrid model as a foundation helped facilitate the change, and feedback from employees about the training has been positive.
“Everyone was impressed by the delivery of the courses,” says Armitage. Because the courses were private and tailored to BAE Systems AI employees, attendees could ask company-specific questions that they couldn’t have asked in a more general class setting.
“QA made the move from physical to virtual training effortless when our customers needed our support more than ever. AWS Training was and still is pivotal to that support,” says Armitage. “It would have significantly reduced the quality and volume of delivery if we had not used QA.”
Skilled and certified staff increases new business wins
Now BAE Systems AI can attract prospective clients that want to see AWS Certification. “Customers in the national-security sector are starting to recognize the importance of the cloud and are migrating less-sensitive workloads into that space,” says Armitage. These customers require expert assistance to do so successfully.
The number of trained and AWS Certified employees increases potential customers’ confidence in BAE Systems AI’s ability to meet their needs. “We’re in a better position to go to market and bid against other companies,” says Armitage. “BAE Systems AI now has about 22 projects running on AWS, which is not a trivial thing.”
Go forward upskilling plans
In addition to using ongoing training from QA to provide a baseline skill set to new employees, BAE Systems AI can soon use AWS Certification as a career-advancement requirement.
By upskilling employees, BAE Systems AI can more successfully retain customers and win new business. “The AWS Training from QA enables us to present our market position to customers by demonstrating our teams’ AWS expertise,” says Armitage. “We’re already seeing high customer satisfaction with what we’ve delivered using AWS technology.”