How Federalist Helps Government Host Websites
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How Federalist Helps Government Host Websites

so let’s first talk about the problem
that that Federalists exists with them making a website in the government is
really hard I’ve heard that from different agencies different agencies
quote me different numbers sometimes they say watching just a basic HTML page
saying hello world will cost sixty six thousand dollars or ninety five thousand
dollars a hundred and thirty thousand dollars depending on how you want to
account for it and there are a lot of reasons for that but I’ll summarize four
here one is hosting especially the ability to deal with traffic surges
which if you’re in a data center mean you need a lot more machines than you
would otherwise need another piece is getting the authority to operate or the
ATO within your agency in whatever contexts that exists and for some of
y’all that’s a big lift for others of you that’s what’s an ATO
kind of a situation and and we’re here to solve both of those things there’s
maintaining compliance and then maintaining your site making and then
being able to update content and all three of these things or all four of
these things can be difficult so if I can move on there we go let’s skip them okay okay so
let’s first talk about hosting I borrowed this this slide from our
friends at the cloud echo system which is our underlying platform when you talk
about hosting there’s a lot of stuff that you have to do you have to do
server acquisition facility utility at the point of the data center and then
there’s all this stuff as it pertains to the platform and these are all main
required for compliance and they all have a bunch of regulations behind them
you have different solutions that you can choose that get you to that point of
having the underlying platform and this has nothing to do with the content of
your site this is just all the stuff you need to run a web server in the federal
government you could run your own data center which means the agency is
responsible for the application of the platform the hardware and the facility
you could use infrastructure as a service and when I say when we talk
about Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services or AWS that’s infrastructure as
a service but even then you’re still responsible at the agency level for a
platform or an application or you can use a platform as a service in that case
that takes care of most of the of the areas but there’s still this box at the
top federalists exists partly to help solve all these things so that you just
have to focus on your content there’s a lot of complex security
requirements and a lot of pages to read the number of pages depends on how you
count them but it’s at least 4,000 and includes all of these different pieces
and that is a giant lift especially for a small team at a small agency trying to
be able to lift and understand these things themselves I think I see a lot of
you nodding hopefully on the online as well I have experienced this issue or
not hopefully but that’s the world that we live in and that’s the world that
made us build Federalists the way we did content updates I’ll admit this is a
harder workflow than exists for a lot of folks but sometimes this is a real-life
scenario where the content authored at an agency has to get content approval
then send it to a CEO or someone to deal to the contract who then send it to the
contractor sometimes a prime contractor who then needs to send it to the
subcontractor who then sends it gets a ticket which then has to be triage which
is then fixed and if there’s a typo you have to go through the whole system
again sometimes instead of a contractor it might be your agency central IT shop
that makes the update for you but that’s partly tied back to the compliance
question because every time that someone gets access to your website that’s
another security possible issue and so it kind of adds into the level of
complexity and sometimes agencies solve this problem just by denying content
authors the ability to actually edit your site because that lowers the
security threshold but it raises friction otherwise to make site updates
and then lastly okay so when you add what we could all these things together
they add up to a norm of six months to launch a website in the government and
for any kind of if you have a political appointee that’s wanting to watch
something very quickly that can be in transit ball if you don’t have a budget
to handle you know money for that long time that doesn’t work if you have
something you need to watch or announce it quickly that doesn’t work so that’s
the issue that we are here to try to solve any questions about that so far
and remember for folks that are online please leave your questions in the chat
box on YouTube there’s a link to that YouTube chat box from the digital gov
event page a lot of agencies solve this problem
with a CMS now it might be WordPress or Drupal and that is a perfectly great
solution to solve the problem as long as you have some other things that are
important to go on with it you need to make sure that you have a team that’s
managing that CMS you need to make sure you have a team that’s dedicated for
maintenance of that CMS when bugs come out or issues come out or there’s a CVE
released by Homeland Security saying you need to make sure you patch this you
need someone that’s watching over that CMS to make sure that someone can’t
login get root access and then disrupt all the sites so a lot of agencies and
offices that we work with are more like small businesses they don’t necessarily
have a fully dedicated team to manage that kind of CMS they’re more like an
auto shop on the corner of your home town that has a web server in the back
corner that’s kind of handling its website but otherwise doesn’t do a lot
on the internet and there’s not a dedicated web staff and that leads to
frustration especially for small teams and small agencies or small teams inside
of our agencies as we’re all about spreading ownership so what is
federalists and how to set it we’ll solve this
the mission of federalists is to make it easy for people to launch content and
site updates by handling the backend solution of your website the first thing
I want to do as far as education in this workshop is to distinguish between two
things the front end of your site and the back end of your site the front end
of your site is how your site looks and feels it’s how the buttons look it’s one
of the links point it’s all the stuff that people the public interact with and
click with the back end is the thing that’s hosting your website it’s the web
server it’s the infrastructure it’s the platform it’s all the stuff the public
doesn’t see it’s all the stuff that makes things in compliance land
especially really hard your ATO does not care about if your
website has a typo that’s on the front end your ATO doesn’t
care if your website has horrible colors that clash against each other that’s on
the front end better list is here to solve the backend stuff the US web
design standards are here to help you with the front-end stuff so that’s how
those two things work together federalists is making the compliance and
back in part easy the u.s. web design standards is doing the other part and
get into that in a second so specifically the kind of groups that
we’re thinking about would be a small office a microwave Chauncey a program a
campaign you can look at plain language job as an example of a small website
there’s Katherine that we just that we just launched that’s run by a pretty
small team that’s interagency how many different agencies work on that team
Kathleen but so that’s it people kind of on their own time from three different
agencies helping to run this site we want to make sure that they’re equipped
to run their own site you’ll see all these examples but if you want to visit
right now we have a brand new page of examples that federalists at 18f gov /
content / examples especially for you folks online and that might be helpful
so we want to help and empower those folks to be able to own their content or
you in here to be able to own your own content so we do that by using something
called static web hosting so let’s talk about static versus dynamic web hosting
I know those are not the easiest to follow words sometimes it might be more
you might want to say basic web hosting but static and dynamic are really the
best terms that we can use static web sites work because you build them up one
time over here and then they sit over here and everyone from the public
interacts with them and they don’t change they can’t change they’re just a
bunch of HTML files or a bunch of pages sitting on a server that can’t be
interacted with that makes them cheaper in terms for hosting aids because they
can be served at pretty low cost the cost is actually minuscule compared to
the average cost of a visitor that you’d have for a dynamic site a dynamic site
like WordPress like a WordPress site or something like that is one where the
user can actually interact with it where the web server allows you to submit a
comment and what’s think about it for a second when I submit a comment my page
actually changes that that comment changes the HTML that everyone else
visits if you visit a a media website or you know a blog that changes the HTML
you can’t do that on a static server so you can’t submit comments you can’t
submit information any kind of interactivity that you’re going to be
using is going to happen separately through a different server that might
run an API an API is a way of interacting with it with a computer on
the internet and sending it information but the cool thing about this compared
to a big CMS is that if you have a static site and an API server those
things together have a much smaller security blueprint than you would have
otherwise because you don’t have to worry about someone getting root access
to change all the stuff on your site if the API server only elects people you
know ask for data it ends up being a way of doing a slightly smaller scope in
terms of things you can do but that applies to the vast majority of
government sites and then if you want to add in some of these other features and
functionality as I’ll show you during the demo time you can do that pretty
easily using using federalists and using API servers

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