"Government Cloud is about fundamentally changing the way government buys technology," former federal government CIO and current Salesforce.com executive VP Vivek Kundra said in a brief interview after his keynote address at Salesforce.com's CloudForce D.C. event. "This lets government deploy services quickly, rather than investing years and millions of dollars on things that don't work."
Salesforce.com already has a broad presence in government. According to the company, 70% of cabinet-level agencies and 80% of states use Salesforce.com. Numerous federal agencies, among them the Securities and Exchange Commission, the General Services Administration, and the Department of the Interior, have affirmed that Salesforce.com meets cybersecurity requirements under the Federal Information Security Management Act, which governs federal cybersecurity guidelines.
However, many agencies have yet to move services to the cloud, and Salesforce.com says that the Government Cloud, with its dedicated government instances, could help accelerate the move. "Even though U.S. government budgets are being slashed, the government still has a lot of unique needs to fulfill," Salesforce.com public sector senior VP Dan Burton said in an interview. "A lot of government agencies are like deer in headlights: they know that they need to move, but they are frozen by legacy IT."
[ Learn how social networking is making Salesforce.com a bigger part of the IT infrastructure. Read Salesforce.com Makes Friends With CIOs. ]
Government Cloud, due out in the third quarter of 2012, will be housed in U.S. data centers, and segregate government data and applications away from the rest of the Salesforce.com platform to ameliorate government concerns about sensitive government data being intermixed with other data.
Salesforce.com will be actively reaching out to existing customers to help them migrate their data to the new dedicated government services. Unlike government-specific services by other vendors, there will be no extra fees for Salesforce.com's Government Cloud, Burton said.
The new AppExchange for Government, meanwhile, went live early Wednesday morning. AppExchange is similar to Apple's App Store, and includes enterprise apps for government to use, such as permitting and inspections apps.
AppExchange for Government has 60 apps by 30 different developers across a number of different categories, including permitting and inspection apps, call center apps, human resources apps, help desk and asset management apps, apps for school systems, and program management apps, as well as others.
Finally, the new government partner program plans to train a thousand new small business entrepreneurs by December 2012 to work with government agencies, with training beginning next month in Washington, D.C. Kundra touted the program as a way to allow small businesses to engage with government in ways that historically have been impossible due to the historically high barriers of doing business with the government.
Hacktivist and cybercriminal threats concern IT teams most, our first Federal Government Cybersecurity Survey reveals. Here's how they're fighting back. Also in the new, all-digital Top Federal IT Threats issue of InformqtionWeek Government: Why federal efforts to cut IT costs don't go far enough, and how the State Department is enhancing security. (Free registration required.)