Salesforce Getting Social in New Government Cloud

Former federal CIO Vivek Kundra, now a Salesforce executive, is readying the company to compete for business in the government cloud space.

by / April 25, 2012 is pitching a new suite of products designed specifically for the public sector, with social and mobile features built into a secure government-only cloud.

Salesforce, which delivers customer relationship management software and other business tools via the Web, announced its new Government Cloud at its annual Cloudforce conference on Wednesday, April 25. The cloud will comply with several security and privacy standards, including the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), the company said.

The new multitenant cloud will be available to federal, state and local governments in the third quarter of 2012.

Vivek Kundra, the former U.S. federal CIO who is now Salesforce’s executive vice president of emerging markets, is leading the company’s push into the government cloud space. Kundra was a proponent of cloud technology in the Obama administration and evangelized a “Cloud First” policy designed to reform federal procurement and save money.

Salesforce is trying to integrate social and mobile features in its new cloud offerings for government. The company launched Wednesday a new online storefront called AppExchange for Government, curating 60 apps chosen specifically for public-sector customers. Salesforce also said it’s starting a “partner accelerator program” beginning next month that will quickly train 1,000 integrators on the company’s new cloud products for government.

John Conley, the executive director of the Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority, told Government Technology that Salesforce's new government cloud should help his organization deploy applications more quickly. In the seven months since the portal authority started using the Salesforce platform, nine different applications have been rolled out to the organization's customers in Colorado state and local government, he said.

The new government cloud and the applications available in the store should make less customization necessary, thus reducing the time needed for a deployment. Conley said Salesforce's products will be "right fitted" for government.

In the past if a city government wanted a usable CRM, the portal authority would sometimes have to spend time changing the vernacular within Salesforce's tools, which tend to cater to private-sector terminology. For example, a "workflow" in the business world is known as a "correspondence" in the public sector, Conley said. It took time to make these translations.

Now a government Salesforce user should be able to pick from a menu of the company's applications and only have to make simple modifications, such as adding the agency or department's official seal, Conley explained.

Salesforce claims an estimated 100,000 customers, including the majority of federal agencies and several state governments, such as the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Texas Department of Information Resources.

With Wednesday’s announcement, Salesforce joins an increasingly crowded field of competitors vying for business via a government cloud. Google, Microsoft and HP are among those that have launched their own government-only cloud.

This story was updated at 2 p.m.

Matt Williams Associate Editor
Platforms & Programs