Tech Talk: Log4Shell, Single Sign-On, & AWS Cognito

by Alice Swan Nov 25th, 2021 Tech Talks

As companies expand the amount of software tools they utilize to do business, the risk of data breaches grows. The Log4Shell exploit hammers this point home. Single sign-on solutions help companies regain confidence in the protection of their sensitive data.

On November 23rd, Colin Ardizzone, a software engineer on the Security Control team held a virtual tech-talk on Single Sign-On and AWS Cognito. He discussed the numerous security and administrative benefits of utilizing single sign-on in an organization. He also discussed several different single sign-on protocols, with a deep dive into the SAML protocol.

During this deep dive, he focused on how SAML is configured both as an administrator and user. There was also a demonstration of single sign-on being executed using Security Control and Microsoft Azure as the identity provider. During this demonstration there was a focus on how data was exchanged between the two parties using the SAML protocol. Some of the auditing and security features of Azure were also used to show how single sign-on can be a powerful security auditing tool.

About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

How to Build a Mapbox Minimap in a React App

by Tyler Beall Oct 18th, 2021 Technology

My team at Evans and Chambers Technology has been working on an application in the geospatial analytics field for the past few months. Using the React library and Mapbox GL JS, we were able to provide a map which would allow users to perform valuable functions such as drawing geoJSON shapes, identifying locations on a map, and providing layers for data analytics and trends.

As we progressed with the application, it became clear that from a design standpoint, our map needed an overview map to help the user identify their location more easily.

Unfortunately Mapbox does not provide this functionality out of the box, nor do they provide documentation on how implement this relatively common feature request. And to make matters worse, we were unable to find any examples online of any other teams building this feature.

See our post on Medium to learn more about how our team discovered and documented adding this novel feature to a React application.

Evans & Chambers Technology Reunites at the Ballpark!

by Alice Swan Sep 22nd, 2021 EC Inside Events

On September 19th, Evans & Chambers (EC)  leadership was thrilled to host more than forty staff members at Nationals Ballpark to demonstrate EC’s gratitude and appreciation for the dedication and commitment the EC staff offers everyday.  After many months of COVID-related restrictions, many familiar faces and some new ones came together in a left field luxury sky box to relax and enjoy a fantastic buffet of food and drink. The weather was beautiful and the ballpark lively as the Nationals beat the Rockies for a late season victory.  The gathering was punctuated by boisterous cheering for the home team by the EC staff. 

“It’s wonderful to meet so many teammates in person after only seeing them in virtual meeting spaces over the past several months,” said David Carroll, EC’s channel sales manager.  “I can’t imagine a better place to watch a baseball game.  It’s great to know the EC leadership team truly recognizes the hard work we do everyday,” Carroll continued while enjoying a plate of wings and lounging in an outside seat in the sky box.  

Jamil Evans, President of EC, said, “I’m so proud of this group. They are such a dedicated and smart team that continually delivers at a high level for our clients. Their efforts have been the backbone of our recent growth and development as leading cloud and software developers in the DC – NoVA region.”  Evans added, “We are planning more social events like this as health restrictions loosen so we can further extend our commitment to supporting our clients and staff at a high level.  Connecting with our team in a relaxed atmosphere has been a cornerstone of our success. I genuinely look forward to these events because of the quality people we have on our team.”   

Despite the trying circumstances the team has encountered due to pandemic-related work environment restrictions, EC has continued to thrive and remain leaders in DC’s software development community. 


We Are ISO 27001 Certified

by Alice Swan Aug 4th, 2021 Business News

Evans & Chambers Technology (EC) is excited to announce that we are now ISO 27001 certified! Proper information security is a critically important component of our relationship with our customers, partners, and suppliers. We strive to protect the confidentiality, integrity, availability, and privacy of information and the facilities that hold such information. This certification demonstrates our commitment to the continual improvement of our Information Security Management System (ISMS). 

Our ISMS is regularly monitored within our corporate Quality Management System (QMS) to gain the proper visibility of information security concerns within the organization. Collectively, our QMS demonstrates EC’s commitment to implement quality driven processes and the delivery of quality services that meet or exceed the expectations of our clients in every respect. Our ISO 27001 certification joins our previously obtained ISO 9001:2015 certification and CMMI-DEV Maturity Level 3 appraisal.  

Tech Talk: Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) Basics

by Alice Swan Jul 8th, 2021 Tech Talks

One of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) is known not only as a starting path for learning all things cloud computing, but proves over a decade since its launch to be as versatile and important as ever.

On Tuesday July 6th, Business Analyst Matthew Lauer held a tech talk on the AWS compute service EC2. During the talk Matthew went over foundations for starting out with EC2 and how he is utilizing this tool on his current project with Bright Beginnings. Matthew discussed the goals for the Bright Beginnings project and provided an explanation of the cloud architecture used on the project.

Matthew explained that Elastic Compute Cloud is the most valuable technical component for hosting a Learning Management System platform and that is why his team chose to use it for the Bright Beginnings project. Additionally, he said that EC2 has been very important as a learning tool for the interns at EC, gearing them up for their Certified Cloud Practitioner exams.

About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the
sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

Tech Talk: Efficient Cloud Development & Deployment

by Alice Swan May 7th, 2021 EC Inside Tech Talks

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the resurgence of remote work and an ever-increasing number of networks that a Developer must be ready to engage with, effective DevOps Strategies have become integral to every Team’s Software development Life Cycle.

On May 4th, Dave Rabrun, A Software Architect at EC, held a Tech Talk explaining different methodologies to developing, deploying and maintaining software on disparate networks. During the presentation, Dave provided the audience with information about several collaborative operations & development environments that he uses to move data and code across his networks.

 Dave also presented advantages of completing as much development as possible from commonly accessed networks such as DI2E,, AWS GOVCLOUD or AWS Commercial. From there, Dave showcased several tools he considered essential to his DevOps Toolbox. The tools he showed were AWS Cloudformation, AWS SAM and SonarQube. He went on to explain that with proper configuration & leveraging the templating and automation available with Cloudformation & SAM CLI, a developer can deploy the same system, every time, across different AWS networks. With SonarQube, the audience were shown that they could create a baseline to ensure a predictable security cadence for their applications & deployments.

Lastly, Dave went over common pitfalls to deploying to disparate networks such as “building to origin” instead of “building to destination” and not taking advantage of unit testing. The concept of “building to origin” is creating applications based on the system of origin, instead of “building to destination” which predicates building applications to the lowest common denominator or the network where the software will eventually be deployed.

About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

NFL Washington Football Team Drafts Evans & Chambers

by Alice Swan Mar 29th, 2021 Business News

Evans & Chambers Technology is excited to report that we are working with the National Football League’s Washington Football Team (WFT) on a project that supports its continuous IT evolution in the competitive world of professional sports. 

Evans & Chambers was awarded a contract with the WFT in November 2020 to provide the organization with a comprehensive assessment of its IT infrastructure. This assessment includes providing a current picture of WFT IT resources, documenting their current business operations and how IT enables those operations, determining what IT resources will support continued operational evolution, and building an IT roadmap such that IT transformation will align with operational transformation.

Competitive professional sports today requires the use of technology in ways never imagined 25 years ago. Evans & Chambers is proud to help the WFT stay current with the ever-changing world of IT and data analytics. We are honored that the WFT drafted the Evans & Chambers team to help win the game where technology not only enables business operations but also creates business discriminators on an extremely competitive field of play.

Tech Talk: Lean UX

by Alice Swan Mar 26th, 2021 Tech Talks

User Experience Design (UX) has many flavors, Human Centered Design, Design Thinking, Customer Experience (CX) and more. LEAN is one of these methodologies. Even with LEAN, there are different versions. 

On Tuesday March 23, Don Ruzek, one of Evans & Chambers’ User Experience Designers on the DID(it) team at USCIS, held a Tech Talk, explaining what LEAN UX is and how the team is using it.The core of this talk is about philosophies and techniques related to the book, The Lean Startup”, by Eric Ries. This allows Product Design to develop requirements, UI design, terminology, UI patterns, and more to create the best user experience and business value. This process has been used since 2017 and has proven extremely successful with tasks, tracking, and history related to mission critical USCIS case management.

About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.

Marina Sullivan’s “Know Your Why” Spotlight

by Alice Swan Mar 8th, 2021 EC Inside

At Evans & Chambers Technology, we believe it’s important to know and share your personal “why.” For our fifth  “Know Your Why” Spotlight, we spoke with Marina Sullivan, a senior project controller that has a passion for developing and managing our contract goals and is a vital contributor to the growth and progression of the company. Marina shared what she finds personally fulfilling about her work at Evans & Chambers (EC) and why she enjoys doing it.

Describe your role at Evans & Chambers

I work directly with project managers and leadership to help define project goals and objectives. I analyze progress reports as well as develop and maintain a project budget. As a key part of the back office support at EC, I’m one of the people that may engage in communication with customers prior to our technical gurus showing up to work on their solutions. It is important to me that our customers know that we care about how we do the work and that every detail is just as important as the end solution. I strive to make every interaction with our customers, no matter how small, relevant and meaningful.

What is your personal WHY?

I’ve always been someone that cares about how my actions and words affect people. I’m always conscious of the perception people have when they hang up the phone after a conversation with me or after participating in a specific activity. At EC, I love the fact that part of our mission statement includes, “in every action, we will put the human experience first.”

What do you do in your free time?

In my spare time I enjoy reading James Patterson books, watching true crime stories (big ID Discovery fan), and I love restoring antique furniture pieces. Okay, so I’ve only done two (2) pieces in my life…but I do love it! Since we’ve been quarantined due to COVID, I’ve finally been able to focus on this a little. I also love anything to do with Real Estate, so if I’m not watching crime stories it’s HGTV for me! Whatever I’m doing, if it’s near the ocean or a beach, I’m happy! 

Tech Talk: AWS Cloud Formation

by Alice Swan Feb 26th, 2021 Cloud EC Inside Tech Talks Technology

Amazon Web Services (AWS) CloudFormation is Amazon’s primary infrastructure-as-code (IaC) service. Nearly any resource that can be created through the AWS console can (and should) be created using CloudFormation templates. IaC is a cornerstone of the modern software development lifecycle. With IaC, solutions can be deployed, downtown, and redeployed as often as needed. 

Quoting the noted software developer Spider Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” CloudFormation tools need to be used with care and with future maintainability in mind. The objective is always to be able to deploy an entire solution from scratch and with the least amount of code in your templates. 

Pat Ryan, cloud practice lead for Evans & Chambers, has been working with AWS for 4 years, and he presented the following lessons learned during the Tech Talk. 

  • Deploy early and often.
  • Always be able to deploy your entire solution from scratch.
  • YAML is preferred over JSON, as YAML supports comments and is more compact.
  • Make use of the built-in constants that are available when a stack deploys—for example,  AWS::StackId
  • Make resource identifiers unique to the stack.
  • Nest, but not too deep.
  • IAM policies can be complicated to get right in CloudFormation. Separate them into their own template.
  • Give your template to a colleague and ask her or him to deploy it. If the deployment fails, you will find out what resources you forgot to put in the template or what dependencies you did not properly factor out.
  • Deploy from the command line, as it is faster and more easily repeatable than deploying from the console.
  • When creating the template definition for an AWS service that you have never used before, use the documentation and keep the definition as minimal as possible.
  • CloudFormation has its limits. Consider other solutions such as AWS Cloud Development Kit (CDK), Ansible, and Terraform.

About the EC Tech Talk Series

The Tech Talk Series is an employee-led platform dedicated to EC’s core value of continual learning. These talks aim to cover a broad range of technology-based topics to promote the sharing of best practices and ideas across EC’s project teams.