Google Building Technology Consulting Business?
Published reports and a U.S. trademark filing seem to indicate that Google is preparing to launch a technology consulting and services business. More than a cloud-based consulting firm, the chatter seems to indicate that Google may even push into so-called break-fix services for hardware and software troubleshooting.
I’d like to focus on two questions:
- Will Google remain committed to channel partners?
- Will Google wind up competing with channel partners?
Admittedly, the U.S. trademark filing may be little more than Google branding the services it already offers. But some TalkinCloud readers are wondering if Google plans to compete in the IT consulting market. A few TalkinCloud readers pointed me to a report on BNet, which analyzes the U.S. trademark filing and the potential implications. Reached by TalkinCloud, a Google spokesperson declined to comment about the speculation.
Now, back to my core two questions…
1. Will Google Remain Committed to Channel Partners?
I’m a bit biased here. I’ve known Google SMB Channel Lead Jeff Ragusa for about two years. He surfaces at multiple channel events annually. Most of those events are designed for managed services providers (MSPs) that understand recurring revenues. I think Ragusa is here at an event that I’m attending — TruMethods Schnizzfest in Philadelphia, Pa.
Google now has more than 3,000 resellers worldwide. And earlier this week, the company launched a Google Premier Reseller tier. Google has also launched an Appsperience program that allows customers to test selected Google Apps at no cost. The twist: The engagement has to include a channel partner.
On June 15, Google appears set to launch Google Chromebooks for Business. The strategy involves notebook- and netbook-like devices from Acer and Samsung. They run ChromeOS and integrate tightly with Google Apps. The Chromebooks for business will cost $28 per business user per month or $20 per academic user (schools) per month. Google has not yet announced a clear Chromebooks for Business channel strategy. But the company has indicated that partners will be able to participate in the strategy.
Also of note: The Google Apps partner program allows channel partners to manage end-customer cloud billing. Microsoft currently does not offer such a capability with its current BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite), the SaaS platform that will be replaced by Office 365 around June 28, 2011.
Will all of those anecdotes and facts in mind, I think it’s clear that Google continues to make channel investments. I think the Google Apps Authorized Reseller program is here to stay. And growing fast.
2. Will Google Wind Up Competing With Channel Partners?
Some TalkinCloud readers have asked me if I think Google’s consulting arm will compete with channel partners.
My reply: I have yet to confirm that Google plans to launch a consulting arm. Regardless, partners already have their answer: Google’s direct sales model and self-service model already competes with channel partners in many ways.
Instead of worrying about competing with Google, partners should look to build their own expertise and intellectual property. How? For starters, learn how to stitch together Google Apps Marketplace offerings. To do so, partners can potentially leverage tools like Google Apps Script.
In the age of cloud computing the line between direct sales, customer self-service and channel sales has blurred. I don’t know for sure if Google will launch an IT consulting arm. But remember: MSPs and VARs are used to such moves…
- IBM has Global Services
- HP acquired EDS
- Dell acquired Perot
- and the list goes on
Instead of panicking, the best channel partners will continue to do what they do best: Add value and differentiate.