The challenge

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had a problem, they were in desperate need of a new electronic records application (ERA) to handle the sending and receiving of large volumes of sensitive data from multiple federal agencies. They hired a vendor to build a new system in the AWS Cloud, but the new platform, ERA 2.0, could not communicate with any of the legacy applications they used daily, rendering the system useless. 

When CDW was hired as a rescue team to assess the situation, they faced a unique problem: how could the legacy data fit into the new system so that ERA 2.0 could finally be used the way it was intended?

While NARA's technical team kept the software up and running, no one knew what technologies supported ERA 1.0 or had access to the source code. Luckily, ERA 2.0 did have sufficient documentation. Using that tiny foothold, CDW began a step-by-step process to "unlock" the data types to plug into ERA 2.0 to make it a functioning solution.


The solution

CDW began studying both the new and old systems over a three-month period of discovery. During this phase, the team examined each system's business functionalities and unique features at a high level to determine which business logic they used and why they were not communicating. Once that analysis was complete, the team provided NARA with a high-level list of which applications should remain and how they planned to convert from one format to the other.

CDW's unique AWS Cloud expertise, coupled with our history of supporting federal agencies, made us the ideal choice for NARA. As an additional benefit, CDW had an in-house specialist in Alfresco Software, which NARA's old system was built on.
After unraveling the logic behind each app and determining why the various business objects were not communicating with one another, the team built a use case demonstrating how this transformation would be accomplished. Multiple complex business objects made it necessary to build multiple Proof of Concepts (POC), since what worked for one would not work for all.  The implementation was modularized using the Extraction, Transformation, and Loading (ETL) processes.



As the project moved into the production phase, the team built, tested, and executed the methodology into production. Once the migration was complete, NARA and the government agencies that interact with it, like the Department of Commerce, were trained on how to use the new system-a milestone that once seemed unreachable. Not only is NARA able to use their new system, but other agencies are able to leverage ERA 2.0 to improve their operations, as well. With CDW's help, the new system has been successfully "unlocked," and NARA's digital records system is finally ready for modernization.

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