U.S Department of Veterans Affair

Laboratory Innovation

The Laboratory Portfolio houses resources available through the Innovation Program, including collaboration tools, VHA’s Innovation Future Technology Laboratory (FTL) and the Innovation Research & Design Center (IRDC). The collaboration tools advance innovation and encourage the building of communities of interest. The FTL is a virtual software development environment that is both source capable and accessible from the Internet. Finally, the IRDC is a physical facility and service that explores technology not yet in use within VHA but that may be applicable to VA in the future.

The FTL is a safe and supported virtual environment where innovators conduct cutting edge innovation work that cannot yet be done in VHA’s production (or live) environments. The FTL consists of a virtualized development and testing area supported by common services. Development and testing areas use a centralized source code repository which allows read access for authenticated users to help facilitate project transparency. The development area of the FTL consists of various tools and utilities used to produce innovative health information technology, such as shared instances of Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA). The testing area consists of a shared environment that mimics the production VistA environment.

Typically these areas use a virtualized copy of the VA eHealth University (VeHU) version of VistA or another version of VistA depending on the user’s preferences and availability. The area only comes with a small amount of fabricated data, but additional data may be generated using tools and utilities found in the environment. Innovators can view the virtual machine configurations and build on them for their own work.

The FTL software is available on the Innovation FTL Cloud (ISC). A virtual machine in the ISC is essentially a computer in the internet, accessible by a client piece of software which displays the screen of the remote computer in a window on the local computer. This window is maintained by virtual machine client software, such as the Citrix Receiver for Citrix based virtual machines, or the VMWare View client for VMWare based virtual machine systems. Locally installed client software is required to use virtual machine computing.

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