Software as a service (or SaaS) is the dominant software delivery model for consumer and enterprise applications, and it’s beginning to make serious headway within government technology solutions.
CIOs and other government decision makers have experienced the incredible advantages of the SaaS development and delivery model in their private lives — and now, they want those benefits for their organizations. In fact, 92% of respondents to a CIO survey said they plan to expand their use of as-a-service models when delivering or obtaining IT solutions.
With so much success in other spheres, the software-as-a-service model is worth exploring for government agencies wanting to modernize legacy functions.
The legacy approach to state and local government software solutions is to build many small custom applications to serve specific departmental needs. A tight team of either in-house or outside developers builds such applications, and a small group of stakeholders oversees the development requirements and processes.
Although development might take on somewhat of an agile approach, applications are generally delivered on a deadline and see a dramatic drop in maintenance work after entering production. Updates are few and far between, and these applications slowly but inevitably decay into “legacy” ones built on outdated frameworks, run times, and dependencies that run in deprecated environments.
Software-as-a-service applications follow a fundamentally different model. Because the applications are delivered as a service and at scale, development never stops. The teams working on SaaS applications place more focus on application maintenance and upkeep, which translates into ever improving software. Large SaaS applications see minor updates applied many times per day using a streamlined, constant DevOps process involving code reviews and automated build/test pipelines.
Better yet, all of this goes entirely unseen by end users.
Unlike applications for consumer and enterprise customers, government software solutions must often perform specialized functions that are unique to an agency or department. But underlying these specific functions are technical challenges that are similar for every application. These include but are not limited to:
For instance, SaaS solutions such as Salesforce empower government clients to harness SaaS’s advantages while retaining the flexibility to create highly customized applications. Salesforce enables point-and-click solution development for many common applications.
At the same time, it offers the ability for developers working with government clients to write and run custom code within Salesforce to fulfill more specialized application requirements. This custom code is merely a small fraction of the overall code base, and it benefits from the continuous updates provided by Salesforce’s core engineering team.
By using Salesforce, government clients can create highly specialized applications that still benefit from the advantages of the as-a-service delivery model.
Although the benefits of SaaS might be most obvious in planet-scale companies (like Salesforce and Microsoft), they extend to smaller, more niche products as well. Case in point: Advances in infrastructure as a service and open-source technologies enable smaller teams to create SaaS offerings in targeted industries such as transportation, harnessing the benefits of continuous integration and deployment and multi-tenancy to create well-maintained, quality solutions that meet industry-specific needs.
Two decades of technology innovation have proven that the SaaS development and delivery model is a fundamentally superior way to create quality software. SaaS dominates not only our day-to-day lives, but also our entire economy: As of this blog’s publication, the five most valuable publicly traded companies in the United States provide software and/or infrastructure as a service.
Government agencies that accelerate adoption of SaaS solutions will receive greater value from investments in technology. In turn, this translates into better service for the citizens who are counting on them. If you’re ready to streamline processes, empower your agency to do its best work, and encourage citizen engagement, reach out to Kyra Solutions to learn more.