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Transforming Government Digital Presence: Empowering Agencies with Acquia and AWS

October 23, 2023 9 minute read
The powerful alliance of Acquia and Amazon Web Services aids the public sector in achieving digital transformation
Color photo of woman standing with digital tablet in front of massive columns

For government entities, a seamless and impactful digital presence is no longer a luxury — it's a necessity. Reaching that goal is best helped by the strategic alliance of Acquia and Amazon Web Services (AWS), a potent force that empowers federal, state, and local government agencies to elevate their online engagement and service delivery.

Let's delve into the intricacies of this partnership, exploring how Acquia's Drupal aptitude and AWS's cloud infrastructure can revolutionize government web experiences across three pivotal dimensions.

Benefits of an Acquia-powered Drupal platform for government

Streamlined content governance

Government agencies deal with a plethora of content types and regulations. Drupal can handle that volume, with content management capabilities that facilitate efficient content governance and distribution, ensuring accurate and up-to-date information.

With robust content revision and workflow management features, communications and public affairs teams can draft and collaborate on content, while business owners can set up customizable approval workflows to ensure that content goes through the proper review process. The review process is particularly important in government, where accuracy, compliance, and consistency are critical. The ability to track changes and revisions provides transparency and accountability throughout the content publishing lifecycle, allowing agencies to meet their  mission and properly serve audiences. 

Additionally, with extensive features for customization, Drupal allows government agencies to create a content framework that adheres to specific and unique requirements. The ability to create custom content types and organize content through the enterprise application of taxonomy and metadata ensures that content can be intelligently delivered across multiple channels while managed in one repository. The result? A powerful tool for government agencies seeking to streamline content creation and governance at scale. 

Accessibility and inclusivity 

Government websites must meet web content accessibility guidelines (WCAG) and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Drupal's commitment to accessibility ensures that everyone, including those with disabilities, can seamlessly access and interact with digital content.

Thanks to Drupal’s modular design, federal agencies can also integrate a wide range of accessibility tools and technologies. Whether it’s incorporating assistive technologies, such as screen readers or speech recognition software, or leveraging modules and extensions specifically designed to enhance accessibility, Drupal provides the flexibility needed to ensure websites are responsive to users’ diverse needs. 

Also, because it’s open source, Drupal has an active and global community devoted to the continuous development and improvement of its accessibility. With the help of contributors and accessibility experts, Drupal regularly updates and refines its features to better meet evolving accessibility standards and best practices. Government agencies can benefit from these ongoing enhancements to ensure their applications and digital experiences stay up-to-date with the latest accessibility guidelines and maintain a high level of inclusivity.

Drupal’s commitment to accessibility, coupled with its extensibility and supportive community, makes it a valuable choice for government agencies dedicated to providing accessible and inclusive digital services. 

Rapid deployment of services

Government agencies often need to deploy new services or updates swiftly, such as during severe weather events or a public health crisis. Drupal's modular architecture and Acquia's streamlined deployment workflows enable agencies to respond promptly to such needs. With a wealth of contributed modules and themes, agencies can leverage pre-built solutions to expedite development, reducing the time it takes to launch new services. Additionally, Drupal's modular architecture allows for easy integration with other systems, facilitating seamless data sharing and collaboration between different departments and agencies.

AWS offers a secure and scalable infrastructure, ensuring that federal agencies can quickly scale their services as demand increases. The Acquia Cloud platform includes a range of tools for content delivery, personalization, and optimization that streamline the development and deployment of digital services. Acquia's DevOps and continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) capabilities further expedite the release of new features and services, allowing federal agencies to stay agile and responsive as requirements change.

Moreover, Acquia's extensive suite of security and compliance features aligns with the strict security and compliance standards of federal agencies, ensuring that services can be rapidly deployed without sacrificing security or compliance. Together, Drupal and Acquia provide a robust solution for federal agencies to rapidly develop, deploy, and manage digital services while meeting governmental security and compliance standards.

Benefits of cloud hosting for government

Scalability for unpredictable traffic

Government websites experience varying levels of traffic based on events, announcements, and interactions. AWS's auto-scaling, which underpins the Acquia platform, ensures that resources match demand, preventing website slowdowns during high-traffic periods. So, as traffic surges, AWS can seamlessly provision additional resources. Then, when traffic subsides, it automatically scales down, thereby reducing costs. Behind the scenes, AWS leverages a globally distributed network of data centers, optimizing content delivery. This means your website will remain fast and responsive, no matter how many people try to access it simultaneously.

What’s truly appealing about the AWS advantage is how it combines scalability with high levels of security, reliability, and cost-efficiency. Government agencies can rest assured that their online services will always be available when needed, even during sudden and unpredictable traffic spikes. This adaptability and reliability are key reasons why AWS is a trusted solution for the public sector, ensuring that the user experience remains consistent and responsive, regardless of traffic levels.

Cost optimization

With tight budgets, government agencies must maximize costs. The Acquia Cloud Platform streamlines web development and content management while being optimized for AWS infrastructure, providing several cost-saving benefits. As a result, government agencies can build and manage websites and applications more efficiently, reducing development time and associated costs. The Acquia Cloud Platform offers a suite of tools for rapid deployment, site building, and content management, enabling agencies to create and maintain digital services at a lower cost.

Data security and compliance

Government agencies handle sensitive citizen data. AWS's robust security features, coupled with Acquia's adherence to compliance standards, safeguard citizen information and maintain trust.

Acquia's platform emphasizes security and compliance. It offers features such as web application firewall (WAF), continuous security monitoring, and proactive threat detection, that protect web applications against potential vulnerabilities and attacks. It also adheres to various industry-specific compliance standards, including FISMA, FedRAMP, and HIPAA, that are crucial for federal agencies handling sensitive data. Additionally, Acquia offers a secure development and deployment environment, allowing agencies to maintain control over their code and configurations while ensuring security best practices are followed.

When integrated with AWS Cloud, agencies benefit from the comprehensive security measures that AWS provides. AWS has an extensive set of security features, including encryption, identity and access management, and network security controls. AWS also maintains compliance certifications such as FedRAMP, NIST, and FISMA that align with agencies’ strict security and compliance requirements. In addition, agencies can leverage AWS Key Management Service extensively for encryption, so only authorized personnel have access to sensitive data and services.

The partnership between Acquia and AWS allows government agencies to build secure and compliant solutions that encompass both the application layer (Acquia) and the underlying infrastructure (AWS). This comprehensive approach ensures that all aspects of the digital experience are protected — from the web application itself to the hosting environment. The combined solution enables government agencies to confidently handle and store sensitive data, while maintaining compliance with regulatory standards and mitigating security risks.

Acquia vs. a DIY approach on AWS

Government agencies can choose between a do-it-yourself (DIY) approach on AWS or leveraging the Acquia Cloud platform. Let’s look at why the latter offers unparalleled benefits for the government.

Benefits of leveraging the Acquia Cloud Platform for government 

Decreased time-to-market

The Acquia Cloud platform, which builds, launches, manages, and optimizes Drupal-based applications, offers significant advantages in decreasing time-to-market when compared to a DIY approach on AWS. Acquia's platform is purpose-built for content management and digital experience management, which means it comes with pre-configured solutions for common web development and content management tasks. As a result, government agencies don’t have to spend time setting up and configuring infrastructure from scratch, which can be time-consuming and resource-intensive. With Acquia, agencies can leverage pre-built templates, tools, and modules, streamlining the development and deployment of websites and digital services, resulting in faster time-to-market.

Acquia's platform also simplifies the management and scaling of web applications. It includes features like automated updates and scalability options, allowing agencies to rapidly respond to changing requirements without having to invest significant time and effort in manual configuration and resource provisioning.

Additionally, Acquia offers a wealth of support and resources, including a global community and network of experts. That community means agencies can access best practices, troubleshoot issues, and receive guidance that can significantly accelerate the development process. In contrast, a do-it-yourself approach on AWS may require agencies to assemble their own team of experts and to rely on internal resources, which can be time-consuming and costly. The all-in-one approach of the Acquia Cloud platform, when combined with its community and support resources, leads government agencies to a faster, more efficient path to bringing their digital services to the public.

Optimized performance

Government websites must handle high traffic volumes without compromising performance. Acquia's platform optimization ensures rapid loading times and smooth user experiences. The platform’s deep integration with Drupal means that it’s finely tuned to maximize the performance and scalability of Drupal applications, resulting in faster response times, reduced latency, and improved overall user experience. These performance enhancements can be a significant time-saver, when compared to the complexity of configuring and managing similar features with a DIY infrastructure approach. 

Simplified compliance

Acquia's platform comes with pre-configured compliance standards and reporting tools that simplify regulatory compliance for public agencies subject to stringent compliance frameworks, which we discussed above.

Remember: Because the Acquia Cloud platform is FedRAMP-compliant, agencies that use it can automatically access a security package that includes the required security features. These documents are updated annually in response to third-party audits, ensuring ongoing compliance. This security package provides a vast majority of the necessary documentation required for an agency’s application to receive an authority-to-operation (ATO). By leveraging Acquia’s platform, government agencies can accelerate the ATO process by taking advantage of the existing security documentation instead of having to establish, document, test, and validate such controls, as is common when taking a DIY cloud-hosted approach. 

A way forward

Together, Acquia and AWS present a paradigm shift for government agencies pursuing excellence in digital service delivery. As government entities strive to enhance citizen engagement, streamline services, and uphold data security, the winning combination of Acquia's Drupal expertise and AWS's cloud prowess offers a transformative solution. By transitioning to Drupal, embracing cloud hosting, and harnessing the Acquia Cloud platform, government agencies can usher in a new era of efficient, citizen-centric digital transformation that elevates the quality of public services. 

To learn more, register for the AWS & Acquia Better Together webinar on Wednesday, October 25.

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