Google CEO and Channel Partners: On the Same Page?
When Google shifted the CEO crown from Eric Schmidt to Larry Page in 2011, The VAR Guy wondered: Does Larry Page value channel partners — or would Google ultimately shift more and more of its cloud services to a direct sales model. Fast forward to the present and some answers are starting to emerge.
First, a little background: Numerous high-tech companies are starting 2012 with new or recently named CEOs in place. The recent CEO roster changes include AMD (Rory Read), Apple (Tim Cook), Hewlett-Packard (Meg Whitman), IBM (Virginia Rometty) and Google, just to name a few. The VAR Guy is looking at each company — one by one — over the next few days. Today’s stop: Google and Larry Page.
The vast majority of Google’s revenues still come from search advertising. Talkin’ Cloud, The VAR Guy’s sister site, estimates that Google Apps generates only about $185 million in annual revenues. But that figure overlooks additional revenue opportunities for Google’s channel partners — many of whom build their own apps or provide integration and consulting services to optimize Google Apps deployments.
The Google Apps partner program certainly has its fans. True believers include Excel Micro, the largest authorized distributor of Google message security and compliance solutions. Michael Amadio, director of marketing at Excel Micro, cheered when Page was promoted back into the CEO post.
By December 2011, Jeff Ragusa, the Google Apps SMB Channel Lead, described how Google would accelerate its channel partner engagements in 2012.
Google Chromebooks and Google Android
So far so good. But Google’s channel strategy could also extend beyond Google Apps. Most recently, Google has been lining up resellers to support Google Chromebooks — those cloud-centric netbooks promoted by Acer and Samsung. During the holidays, Chromebooks apparently were in short supply.
Also, it’s a safe bet many VARs and MSPs will need to master Google Android as they begin to introduce mobile device management (MDM) services for customers’ tablets and smartphones.
But back to the central question from The VAR Guy: Is Google CEO Larry Page committed to channel partners? The VAR Guy’s answer: Page certainly doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about the channel. But his lieutenants — folks like Ragusa and Google VP of Enterprise Amit Singh — have offered steady updates to Google’s growing channel partner base.
Admittedly, Google has its share of doubters in the channel. Some partners worry Google will take business direct. Other partners don’t think they can make a living reselling low-priced Google Apps.
Still, the overall trend is clear: Google’s partner ranks are swelling. And Page has showed no signs of reversing course since being named CEO.