American Foreign Service
Protective Association:
Cloud Migration

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Background

Based in Washington, DC, the American Foreign Service Protective Association (AFSPA) is an 85-person firm that sponsors insurance plans for US Federal government employees working in foreign policy. Its 70,000 members work at US embassies, consulates, and military bases worldwide, spanning every continent, as well as at home in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. AFSPA provides its members with a variety of insurance policies, including the Foreign Service Benefit Plan (FSBP), a health insurance policy. FSBP staff provides support for insurance claims, acting as a liaison between insurance underwriters, in-country service providers, and members filing insurance claims abroad.

Challenge

Recognizing the tremendous advantages of cloud computing, AFSPA set a goal to migrate from the association’s on-premises server rack to a highly scalable, fault-tolerant cloud infrastructure. A key catalyst for the migration was a planned office relocation. Rather than relocating the server rack to the new office, AFSPA decided to move its infrastructure to the cloud prior to the office move.

AFSPA’s legacy infrastructure was a rack-mounted system susceptible to physical limitations such as power outages, cooling system malfunctions, and typical hardware lifecycle risks that could compromise the continuity of operations. With tens of thousands of members depending on AFSPA to process claims rapidly and provide services promptly, such risk exposure ran counter to AFSPA’s mission for fast claims processing. AFSPA struggled to accurately budget for IT expenses since much of the IT budget had historically been spent for unexpected repairs and hardware replacement.

A secondary objective was to enable AFSPA’s remote and mobile workforce to remain completely productive at all times, with access to the same systems as employees at corporate headquarters, while remaining compliant with strict HIPAA compliance standards.

GOAL 1: CLOUD MIGRATION

GOAL 2: ENABLE SECURE TELEWORK

Solution

Cloudforce provided AFSPA with everything needed to achieve these objectives. The first step was to migrate AFSPA’s internal server closet to a highly stable, scalable and secure cloud platform, eliminating frequently occurring issues with cooling and power system failures, as well as hardware lifecycle risks. Employees switched from desktop systems, in a client-server infrastructure, to using thin clients to connect to virtual desktops – relieving AFSPA from virtually all software installation, maintenance and upgrades on individual users’ systems.

Cloudforce then migrated AFSPA to Microsoft Office 365, which not only relieved AFSPA from on-premises maintenance but also enabled mobile and remote workers to maintain absolute productivity while offsite, achieving AFSPA’s second objective of secure and compliant remote work.

Results

Prior to Cloudforce’ migration, AFSPA experienced outages as often as daily during particularly problematic periods. Since Cloudforce took over AFSPA’s systems administration, these outages have been completely eliminated. AFSPA now has zero issues with downtime thanks to the highly reliable, redundant, and fault-tolerant system Cloudforce implemented. This increase in reliability and scalability enables AFSPA to handle more employees and more members without any issues.

RESULT 1: CLOUD INFRASTRUCTURE

RESULT 2: ZERO DOWNTIME

RESULT 3: SECURE MOBILE WORKFORCE

RESULT 4: PREDICTABLE EXPENSES

“I can sleep much better at night knowing that Cloudforce is taking care of everything IT-related for AFSPA,” said Paula S. Jakub, Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice President at AFSPA.

Trust means everything when you’re dealing with IT. I feel I can trust Cloudforce absolutely. Their operation is like Ft. Knox, which gives me much greater peace of mind.

Paula S. Jakub CEO/EVP

Kyle Longton is Chief Operating Officer at AFSPA. From his perspective, Cloudforce has taken a vested interest in AFSPA’s success.

They’re not just your typical IT company. They’re able to offer solutions beyond what we could even imagine.

Kyle Longton COO

Prior to hiring Cloudforce, Mr. Longton saw much frustration with IT among AFSPA employees. “That’s not the case anymore,” he noted. “Cloudforce is very collaborative and they’re always looking for solutions to meet our needs. I have confidence they will be responsive and proactive.”

AFSPA also now has complete accuracy in IT budgeting and expenses, since Cloudforce provides all of the hosting, maintenance, and upgrades for one fixed monthly rate. Unexpected expenses for hardware or cooling system failures are now a thing of the past. In fact, under Cloudforce’ service agreement, AFSPA has enjoyed a
significant reduction in overall IT expenditure.

“I have a much better understanding of exactly what I’m spending IT dollars on thanks to Cloudforce,” Ms. Jakub added.

Conclusion

Thinking back on the work that Cloudforce has done for AFSPA, Mr. Longton said, “I would highly recommend Cloudforce. The team takes a collaborative approach which has made all the difference for AFSPA.”

Ms. Jakub characterizes Cloudforce as, “Excellent, trustworthy, complete, and comprehensive. I trust them to think of things I don’t even know about. They are an extension of the organization and they are allowing us to accomplish goals that we’ve been wanting to do for a long time.”

Cloudforce mission

Enabling our clients’ success through excellence in technology services, delivered in a friendly and trustworthy manner.

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