Leaping from Mainframes to AWS: Technology Time Travel in the Government

Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 4:30 pm5:00 pm

Andy Brody and James Punteney, U.S. Digital Service


The year is 1999, judging from the technology on your servers. Your mission is to ensure the next .gov website launches successfully using modern SRE tools and practices. Where do you start?

In this talk, U.S. Digital Service engineers will discuss lessons learned from helping teams at multiple government agencies adopt SRE tools and practices, changing the culture to emphasize launching fast and learning from mistakes in an environment where healthcare.gov-style disasters are commonplace.

In October 2017, the USDS helped launch a new Global Entry enrollment site built with modern technology. It uses Login.gov, a new service that provides a single, secure, and usable way to log in to multiple government websites.

We describe what it was like on launch day when we moved Global Entry from “cloud infrastructure” where it takes 6 months to provision a VM to an AWS infrastructure where deployments happen daily, and how we scaled Login.gov to meet the load.

Andy Brody, U.S. Digital Service

Andy is an engineer with the U.S. Digital Service, where he currently leads the infrastructure team for Login.gov. He has also worked to improve the technology practices at U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services, which is digitizing the process that millions of people go through every year to submit applications and requests.

Previously Andy worked on infrastructure and security at Stripe, where he was the first member of the systems team. He helped grow Stripe's platform through many orders of magnitude of traffic, and he also started Stripe's security team.

James Punteney, U.S. Digital Service

James is the Director of Emerging Projects for the Department of Homeland Security Digital Service. Since May 2017, he has led efforts to improve international travel, as well as modernize tools & techniques used to build software within the government. Most recently, he helped lead the relaunch of Customs & Border Protection’s Trusted Traveler Program, a program that enables its 6 million+ members to travel hassle-free in and out of the United States.

With almost two decades of experience, James came to government from Manzama where he served as VP of Product & Engineering. Prior to that, he held senior executive positions at Genius Rocket, Transcendigital and various mid-late stage startups. James holds a Master’s degree from University of Notre Dame – Mendoza College of Business, and a Bachelor’s in Information Systems Management from Washington State University.

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