DRT Strategies Helps the US FDA Modernize Applications and Identify Foodborne Pathogens Faster by Migrating to AWS
AWS Partner DRT Strategies worked closely with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to migrate 27 mission-critical workloads from an on-premises data center to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and create a new AWS-based data lake. Now, the FDA can efficiently review food processes, more quickly identify foodborne pathogens, automate data collection and analysis, and deploy new applications and enhancements faster than before.
Leading the FDA on a Journey to the Cloud
Like many government organizations, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wants to lower its IT costs and increase its agility by moving mission-critical applications to the cloud. To support that goal, the FDA sought to move key regulatory workloads from an on-premises data center to AWS. Specifically, the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) wanted to migrate its business applications to AWS.
DRT Strategies, Inc. (DRT) has been with the FDA every step of the way on this cloud journey, from 2010 to present. DRT, an AWS Partner, is a management and technology strategy firm that offers IT, health IT, program management, and financial management solutions to federal agencies and other enterprise clients. “We’ve been closely involved with the FDA in terms of project management and application migration to AWS,” says Rick Goodwin, senior manager of CFSAN delivery at DRT Strategies. “We’ve seen the evolution of the CFSAN cloud journey and watched the FDA experience benefits, including scalability and cost savings.” As a small, woman-owned business, DRT has also benefited from the AWS Think Big for Small Business Program. As part of the program, DRT received access to business, technical, and marketing support resources from AWS.
More recently, the FDA wanted to move its Chemical Evaluation and Risk Estimation System (CERES) to AWS to modernize the agency’s food substance review process. CERES, which manages food safety and nutrition labeling, ran on an outdated on-premises system. The FDA also sought to establish a sustainable data and information management solution to provide better decision support for pre- and post-market safety assessments for food ingredients and food contact substances. “The FDA wanted to gain better insights into its CERES data and determine what that data means for the food industry,” Goodwin says. “We were excited to work with them again to figure that out.”
The FDA can collaborate with partners to identify and respond to foodborne pathogens faster than before. By running on AWS, the FDA has optimized its operations and can work better, cheaper, and faster."
Senior Manager of CFSAN Delivery, DRT Strategies
Migrating 27 Key Workloads to AWS
DRT initially provided planning and analysis before moving CFSAN’s large regulatory systems from an FDA data center to AWS. DRT created cloud migration strategies, financial analysis, and application rationalization while embracing the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework (AWS CAF) to support a Cloud Center for Excellence. “We used the Cloud Center for Excellence to identify how to reduce costs and recommend common cloud migration strategies to address the FDA’s challenges,” says Goodwin.
To support the FDA’s strategic cloud initiatives, DRT helped the FDA migrate critical workloads to AWS, including the CERES, Food Applications Regulatory Management (FARM), and CFSAN applications.
DRT helped the FDA migrate the CERES from a data center to AWS, which now runs on services including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). As part of this migration, DRT created an AWS-based data lake that relies on AWS services to help the FDA perform advanced analytics on unstructured and semi-structured data. The solution automates knowledge management and helps the FDA better capture genetic research data for analysis. “This gives the FDA access to internal data in a way they didn’t have before,” says Paul Shatlock, vice president of delivery at DRT Strategies. “They now have better organization and analytics for their data.”
Overall, DRT helped the FDA move 27 production applications to AWS, supporting more than 10,000 internal and external application users.
Identifying Foodborne Pathogens Faster through a More-Efficient Review Process
By moving to AWS, the FDA modernized its CERES, increasing the efficiency of the food substance review process. Specifically, the FDA can more quickly change infrastructure requirements as they are needed directly in the console. As a result, the agency can better support its mission: providing better decision support for pre- and post-market safety assessments for food ingredients and contact substances. “The FDA can collaborate with partners to identify and respond to foodborne pathogens faster than before,” says Goodwin. “By running on AWS, the FDA has optimized its operations and can work better, cheaper, and faster.”
Gaining Deeper Business Insights and Driving Agility
The FDA is relying on its AWS-based data lake to automate data gathering and knowledge management, helping business owners make critical decisions without architecture review and involvement. “The FDA has more flexibility now, in terms of gathering, accessing, and analyzing business data,” says Goodwin. “Business leaders have faster access to real-world data, which they didn’t really have in the previous on-premises environment.”
In addition, the FDA has increased developer agility by moving to AWS, helping support application modernization initiatives. Specifically, CFSAN can develop new applications and roll out features and enhancements faster than before. Previously, it would take the FDA one month to set up a server, because the agency did not have direct access to push application releases into production and had to work with an outside contractor. Now, the FDA can bring up an instance the same day on AWS and can push applications to production directly without needing to rely on the contractor. This has also reduced points of error.
As the FDA explores moving additional workloads to AWS, DRT will continue working closely with the agency. “We’ve been working with CFSAN since 2010, and we are evolving as they evolve,” says Goodwin. “AWS is a great tool for our toolbox in terms of modernization and efficiency, and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with the FDA.”
About the US Food and Drug Administration
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is a federal agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA is responsible for protecting and promoting public health by controlling and supervising food safety, medications, medical devices, and a range of other products.
AWS Services Used
- Identifies foodborne pathogens faster through a more-efficient process
- Gains deeper business insights
- Helps developers stand up servers in one day instead of one month
About AWS Partner DRT Strategies
DRT Strategies, Inc. (DRT) is a leading management and technology strategy firm providing IT solutions, health IT services, program management and financial management solutions to federal agencies and enterprise clients in the technology and financial services sectors. The company is an AWS Select Tier Consulting Partner, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia.
Published October 2023