FCC flexes cloud muscle to accommodate national emergency test demand

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Ever in the process of overhauling legacy IT systems and moving to the cloud, the Federal Communications Commission is starting to see some successes on those modernizations, deputy CIO John Skudlarek said Thursday.

Take the day prior, for example, when the government held a nationwide test of its emergency alert system. The FCC needed to scale its system to accommodate the providers who had to report back on whether they were able to receive and/or send the message. 

Such a feat might have overburdened FCC’s prior data centers, but Skudlarek said the agency’s cloud-based system allowed it to meet the increased demand.

“We built on a cloud platform, [and] did it relatively inexpensively,” Skudlarek said. “This technology ultimately has a tie in with [Amazon Web Services], and we were able to dial up — you talk about cloud elasticity — dial up the capacity for that thing for this test.”

Skudlarek noted the platform normally sees much less traffic than it did on the test day, when all providers had to file results in an eight-hour period.

“When we’re able to do things like that it helps us think that success breeds success,” he said to a crowd of entrepreneurs at an event at the Booz Allen Innovation Center in Washington, D.C.

Technology and innovation are all about mission accomplishment, Skudlarek noted, adding that the FCC is in a good place with its efforts.

“I’m not talking to you about stuff that we wanted to do or we thought we should do or we could’ve done or we wanted done,” Skudlarek said. “I’m talking about stuff that we’re actually doing, and that’s really a great position to be in.”

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Agencies, Federal Communications Commission
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