Salesforce.com Reaches for Bigger Slice of Government Cloud Pie
Salesforce.com has unveiled a new series of cloud computing initiatives for the government user base -- a highly lucrative niche for tech vendors, especially those that can present their products in a budget-friendly light.
The new offerings, bundled under the name "Government Cloud," include a dedicated, multitenant instance of Salesforce.com's cloud infrastructure, a new AppExchange for the Government, and a Salesforce Government Partner Accelerator Program.
Their structure is based on input from Salesforce.com's existing government customers, Daniel Burton, senior vice president of Global Public Sector, told CRM Buyer.
"Salesforce.com has had a lot of success in the public sector, and we have a good sense of what its needs are," he said.
Along with saving money, security is an important focus, and to that end, "Salesforce.com has received business certifications from numerous federal agencies," Burton noted. "We have a track record of being a trusted platform."
The dedicated instance of Salesforce.com's cloud infrastructure for the government, for example, complies with Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) requirements, as well as SSAE 16 (formerly SAS 70), ISO 27001, PCI-DSS Level 1, Safe Harbor, and TRUSTe.
More to the point, the government cloud version will have separate application and database servers to support government customers. They will housed in U.S.-based production data centers.
The government service is scheduled to be available in the third quarter of 2012.
AppExchange Means Budget-saving Replication
The second leg of Government Cloud, the AppExchange for government agencies, appeals to frugal-by-necessity budgets of federal and, especially, state and local government agencies.
"IT budgets are getting slashed, so agencies have to find new ways to save money," Burton said. "One way is replication via an app."
Like its commercial counterpart, AppExchange for Government offers a slew -- specifically 60 -- of applications, usually built on Force.com, in such areas as help desks and asset management, program and project management, and constituent relations.
One example is BasicGov, an app aimed at all levels of government, from local counties to federal agencies. It streamlines permitting and inspections, code enforcement and licensing.
Another is DocuSign, an eSignature app aimed at streamlining workflows around documents. In the education sector, SchoolForce helps parents and teachers track students' attendance and school performance, among other things.
AppExchange for Government is generally available now.
Calling All Integrators
The third piece of the Government Cloud offering is the Salesforce Government Partner Accelerator Program. Its goal is to train 1,000 integrators by the end of the year, whose focus will be on incorporating social and mobile technologies in Government Cloud implementations.
The first training session is scheduled for May 17. Salesforce.com is offering training in its Herndon, Va., office and via the Web. There is no charge for the program.
Presenting Vivek Kundra
The details of Government Cloud are being presented in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday by Salesforce.com's latest star executive, the former first CIO of the United States, Vikek Kundra.
Kundra left his post with the Obama Administration last year. He joined Salesforce.com as executive vice president of emerging markets at the beginning of this year.
In this case, "emerging market" includes the public sector, at least for Salesforce.com, Burton said.
Widely assumed to have been recruited at least in part for his government IT contacts, Kundra is one element -- a major one -- in Salesforce.com's push to dominate the government cloud space.
"There is no question that the government sector has shown a growing receptivity to cloud alternatives," Jeffrey M. Kaplan, managing director of THINKstrategies, told CRM Buyer.
"We have seen not only Salesforce.com but also RightNow Technologies successfully penetrate the government at the federal, state and local levels," he said. "Salesforce.com's new initiative, Government Cloud, is an indication of that growth potential."