Salesforce launched a new cloud platform for government agencies Thursday that executives say aims to make software development easier.
Salesforce’s Government Cloud Lightning is a component-based platform that allows agencies to build, deploy and share applications both inside their agency and with the citizens who use their services. Using the platform, Salesforce executives say, agencies can quickly develop services in house, bring in government contractors to build the applications, or create applications easily themselves from various Lightning components through a drag-and-drop interface.
Vivek Kundra, executive vice president for Salesforce, said the value of Lightning can be seen straight from the day in which an agency signs a contract for the platform.
“In the past in the way you would develop, you would have to buy a data center, and then buy the storage and compute, and then hire an army of consultants and then go through the waterfall process and define requirements,” Kundra told FedScoop. “You would be lucky if two to three years later, you had anything that worked.”
Lightning is available under the $700 million Salesforce blanket purchase agreements — $503 million from GSA, $100 million each from HHS and USDA — with a number of agencies already using the platform. Rusty Pickens, who oversees digital platforms for public diplomacy at the State Department, says Lightning has been crucial for allowing his small office to keep up with modern technology. The platform allows agencies to build products and services that are automatically tailored to work on any platform that they are accessed from.
“The reusability for all of this has been huge for us, Pickens told FedScoop. “We’re a tiny little office in the department that has tried to be the tip of the spear on this. We build things once and we don’t have to worry about the presentation.”
“You don’t have to think when you are developing ‘Oh am I developing for the watch, am I developing for the iPhone, am I developing for the desktop’ or what flavor of end device people are dealing with,” Kundra told FedScoop.
The platform comes as agencies and their vendors are wrestling to improve digital government services — often criticized for being woefully behind the service-with-a-swipe times.
“People are saying, I can swipe on my phone, I can tap on my phone and Uber will come pick me up,” Kundra said. “Amazon will send me diapers or shoes or whatever I am looking for. I can even conduct all of my banking on my mobile device. When it comes to the government, it’s very much about waiting in line, or inside the agency, it’s filling a triplicate form.”
According to some officials at GSA, the ease of Salesforce’s cloud platform combined with the reuse of the developed applications could save up to 80 percent of funds that are normally spent on mission services.
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