How Defence Construction Canada thrived during the pandemic related shutdown
YEARS OF EXPERIENCE
DAILY REMOTE WORKERS
Defence Construction Canada (DCC) is a Crown corporation, accountable to Parliament through the Minister of Public Services and Procurement. Created in 1951, it is a construction company that project manages third parties to build, support, and manage our defense capabilities. This involves building nuclear substations, overseeing operations of shipyards, as well as managing airports for the Air Force. DCC employs approximately 1,500 staff members in its Ottawa headquarters and distributed across the country in all the Canadian Forces Bases (CFBs).
At the time of engagement for this project, DCC was an organization at a crossroads. Since its inception, it had been fully responsible for building and maintaining its IT infrastructure. However, as the IT landscape became more complex and the security threats became more sophisticated, staying on top of this aspect of the business grew to become more challenging. The technology was evolving so rapidly in their industry, DCC found it difficult to keep up with all the changes and security updates to have a secure and up-to-date posture of their IT environment. In essence, DCC wanted to focus solely on its core business which is the construction and management of defence-related facilities. This would mean delegating this aspect to a third party who had more expertise in this field.
Beyond simply freeing themselves of the burden of managing their IT infrastructure, outsourcing its data centre would enable the business to thrive in ways it could not before. By taking a more proactive approach, DCC would be better able to anticipate and adjust to the evolving requirements of DCC’s business, including Contract Services, Contract Management Services, Environmental Services, Project and Program Management Services, and Real Property Management Services.
DCC’s IT Director, Navpreet Uppal summed up the challenges that were driving this massive undertaking. “DCC partnered with Compugen on this cloud migration journey to keep up to speed with industry, our client partners, and mitigate the risks of network downtime and Cyber threats. This would prove to be the biggest infrastructure change in the organization’s history.”
The team opted for a hybrid solution where the majority of the applications would move to Azure, while the main ERP would remain on IBM proprietary hardware in a private cloud. Because the ERP was large and contained critically important functions such as payroll, re-platforming it for a public cloud would have been too time-consuming, therefore its underlying IBM AS/400 system was moved to a private cloud system at the ThinkOn Datacentre. The two clouds were connected via a Microsoft Express Route connection. The scope consisted of moving all other applications, Databases, Services, and Networking from on-premises to an Azure cloud. Compugen engaged CommVault, ThinkOn, Security Resource Group (SRG), and Fortinet as partners in the move and added security of the services once moved. Throughout this process, Microsoft Professional Services had been engaged to evaluate the designs.
Using the Cloud Migration Decision framework process, Compugen strategically aligned each application within each service definition provided by DCC to one of the three “R” cloud migration options: Rehost (IaaS), Rebuild (PaaS) or Replace (SaaS).
Once this was accomplished, the team then systematically:
• Identified the migration goals
• Gathered DCC’s requirements and constraints
• Filtered out alternatives based on evaluation criteria
• Prioritized the migration goals and matched them with remaining alternatives
• Assessed the provider QoS and interaction cost implications
Project Delivery and Final Outcome
The DCC cloud migration project was kicked off in the fall 2018, where a series of planning and design workshops were conducted, leading to a final architecture and the start of the implementation in the early spring 2019.
By moving the services to Microsoft’s Azure Secure Cloud and Compugen’s Managed Services, DCC has achieved these primary objectives:
- Migrate the in-house computing infrastructure to facilities hosted and managed by a third-party Cloud Provider to deliver a more secure, adaptable service.
- Achieve high elasticity and scalability of computing resources.
- Reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in managing computing services.
- Speed up deployment of new technologies, upgrades and patching.
- Improve reliability and ‘up-time’ of computing resources.
- Provide visibility to real-time and historical utilization and performance statistics of computing resources
By achieving these objectives, DCC has realized the following benefits:
- A robust cyber security model built on best practices, able to handle current and future issues such as ransomware Network services protected from distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS).
- Free up DCC Information Technology (IT) staff to run the business of IT instead of the systems.
- Hardware, firmware, and software are always up to date, patched and supported.
- Audit reports provided to DCC regularly.
- Key performance indicators established and reported upon.
- Backup and restores are taken, tested regularly.
- Rapid provisioning of unfamiliar environments
- Disk space and memory utilization managed dynamically by the vendor.
- Redundancy and resiliency built into the service (disaster recovery).
- Elimination of requirement to refresh the environment every 5 years.
As a result of this work and the upgraded security protocols, DCC emerged from the project better able to withstand the effects of the global pandemic. Under their old system, they could have perhaps 100 people at a maximum who could connect remotely to the VPN, a requirement to work offsite. The new architecture allows for many more people to be able to remotely connect to the VPN. Amid the stay-at-home orders, DCC has over 500 users a day connected to their VPN. Upgrading the firewalls to adjust to the new capacity was done remotely overnight and DCC is reporting no latency and their users are able to connect without incident.
As a result of their cloud-based data migration project run in partnership with Compugen, DCC is leaner, more secure, and better suited to adapt to the demands of the modern workspace. By outsourcing their IT support and management, DCC is now able to focus solely on what it does best - the construction and management of defence-related facilities. The new solution proved that their entire organization is more secure than ever before . The enhanced security protocols and firewall capabilities enabled DCC to smoothly transition their people to a secure remote work environment in the wake of the 2020 pandemic. In the end, this project has directly led to DCC being more agile and secure in 2020 and moving forward.