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Local firm expands to help federal agencies

 

Bethesda-based InfoZen has hired 120 employees in the past 12 months and expanded its workspace for developing software to move, manage, store and protect massive databases for key federal agencies.

A key to its recent expansion has been a $208 million contract the firm won in 2016 to work with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, part of the Department of Homeland Security, said Susan Sparks, deputy program manager for the company’s work on the contract.

The company said it has more than doubled its annual revenue since 2015. Sparks said it expects to keep hiring and continue on its strong recent growth trajectory.

All of InfoZen’s current clients are federal agencies, “but we’re looking at adding private ones” as well as new federal agency clients, she said. Among its clients are several parts of the Department of Homeland Security, including CIS and the Transportation Security Administration, as well as several department-wide software improvement programs, such as one to try to cut DHS system downtime down to zero. Another current client is the National Aeronautical and Space Administration.

The company said that in June, it completed a $2 million, 31,000- square-foot expansion and upgrade of its Rockledge Drive headquarters, to maximize efficiency and security for 250 software developer workspaces. The new space includes secure video conference rooms that can connect to multiple locations, to discuss technical strategies with agency clients and to train federal information technology staff.

The State of Maryland and Montgomery County provided loans, grants, and tax credits to the company to make this investment in order to retain and expand the company’s good jobs, according to an InfoZen press release from last December, when the financial aids were extended. Both Gov. Larry Hogan and County Executive Ike Leggett lauded InfoZen’s high-tech work and growth.

InfoZen, more than 20 years old, has always been based in Montgomery County. It’s “a great location” for the company, Sparks said, because of the high-skilled people “you can tap into” not only from Montgomery County, but also from DC and the Tysons Corner area.

It’s also an excellent location for access to the firm’s federal agency client base, she added.

The large number of new hires in the past year have a wide range of experience levels, Sparks said. The company has brought on recent college computer science grads, who have gotten extra training once hired, as well as “experienced tech folks.”

About 30 percent of employees report into multiple locations other than the Bethesda headquarters, generally in federal agency client offices, she noted.

InfoZen has several small business outsourcing partners in Montgomery County, Sparks indicated. “We foster small businesses as well as grow our own,” she said.

Sparks told the Sentinel that most of the company’s current work is producing software for agencies with massive databases, with large amounts of new data every day. For instance, CIS, which handles all visa and citizenship matters for the federal government, reviews and acts on many millions of applications and transactions a year. Using very high security while putting and using that data in the “cloud” is an integral part of InfoZen’s job, she added.

All federal agencies must meet the government-wide “Cloud First” policy, requiring data storage and operations there, Sparks said.

According to the firm’s case study on its recent NASA engagement, InfoZen migrated 65 NASA websites and applications, included the flagship site NASA.gov, to the cloud in just 13 weeks. InfoZen employed its own system, called Launch Ramp ®, for moving client websites and data to the cloud.

Benefits listed in the case study include: allowing NASA to update website content “in minutes rather than hours " and easier and more secure data sharing among NASA facilities and its industry and academic partners around the country and world; better service to the NASA websites’ 140 million annual unique visitors; and saving NASA more than 25 percent in monthly maintenance and operations costs.

InfoZen said it has received several awards for its work for NASA, including 2017 Webby Award: NASA Digital Communications: NASA.gov for Government and Civil Innovation; 2016 NASA Spaceflight Awareness Team Award; 2014 NASA Honor Group Achievement Award; and Webby Awards: People’s Voice Award for Government Category. It was also a finalist for AFCEA Bethesda Governmentwide Initiatives Excellence Awards.

As for the security safeguards in its software, Sparks said, “Although we’re not specifically a cybersecurity company, we wrap strong security features in all programs and all processes for all clients.” InfoZen’s internal processes also are highly secure, she added.

To quickly provide its client agencies with quality software adaptable to new and revised uses, Sparks said, InfoZen uses two, closely related techniques, called “DevOps” and “agile” software development.

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Last modified onThursday, 17 August 2017 20:19
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