SMS Case Studies

Data Accessibility: Microservices Architecture for Efficient Application Delivery


Challenge: To provide the user community with a high level of data accessibility while still addressing budget and logistics concerns within an agency that builds, operates, and maintains hundreds of enterprise applications.


This federal agency operates large data centers that provide storage and computer services for classified and unclassified information, while also building, operating, and maintaining hundreds of enterprise applications, providing the user community with a high level of data accessibility. This includes support of data and applications that are both data center-based and resident in intelligence community cloud environments across all security domains. Application and management support also extend to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) model within the community cloud environments.


Microservices focus on the service lifecycle and not the application lifecycle. Unlike large, tightly coupled software modules that scale to provide the enterprise application, the cloud microservices have a targeted, single-focus function that is about scope and not size. Cloud microservices are also loosely coupled and self-sufficient, avoiding any hard-coded references to other services. They are continuously delivered, which greatly decreases the time to adapt and respond to changes needed for applications that are often updated.

SMS worked with the agency to create an operational development team that would deliver a cloud microservices architecture that augmented the agency-specific portfolio of cloud microservices. The SMS team continued to expand the specific set of microservices for agency application developers while operating and maintaining the deployed set of microservices and building upon the library of offered microservices. These microservices could be utilized on premise or with any cloud provider, so if the agency decided to change providers the move to a new data center is greatly simplified because all developed services for the agency’s application teams will continue to operate with no modification.

The cloud microservices model delivers an architectural approach that defines another layer of abstraction between the PaaS service level and the user community. This has allowed application developers to use and re-use a set of services built for specific purposes, similar to a set of library calls that any application may use over and over again. Because of this, the microservice has functioned as a combination of programming and data made available for use by the user community through interconnection via the web. The efficient delivery of the cloud services provided allows enterprise applications to operate at optimal levels.


The SMS microservices solution has resulted in overall cost reduction for the agency’s application build, operation, and maintenance. It not only reduced the need for the high number of application developers previously maintained through multiple contracts across multiple agency organizations, but also greatly increased security posture. By building a microservice that can run on a base operating system, it is easy to change out the Amazon Machine Images (AMI), upgrade the OS, or perform regular patches without any impact to the function of the service. To further streamline enterprise efficiency, the agency is also setting up an initiative that requires new applications to make extensive use of these microservices. This will not only reduce application accreditation time, but will also provide the business benefits of having new application functionality to users more quickly.