Google SMB Channel Lead Offers Partner Program Update
So, not to brag, but I just got back from a personal tour of the Googleplex — a tour capped off by lunch with Jeff Ragusa, the Google Apps SMB Channel Lead, where he explained how his team plans to work hard to help partners boost the overall Google ecosystem in the coming year. Our discussion also included some key priorities for Google’s 2012 channel play, an update on Chromebooks for resellers, and a general overview of where partners fit in. Update: Google reached out with some clarifications. See below.
The theme of Google’s 2011 SMB channel strategy, Ragusa said, was to help Google Apps Authorized Resellers find a way to start the cloud conversation with customers. The next step in 2012 will be to find ways to help partners invest more deeply in the Google cloud ecosystem. In other words, while many partners may have signed up with Google Apps to provide cloud e-mail or document-sharing, Team Ragusa wants to help partners find better ways to build their businesses on top of the Google cloud infrastructure.
There are several Google Apps Authorized Resellers that have already figured out that business model for themselves — Ragusa singled out partner Newmind Group as a good example of a channel organization that has successfully layered additional Google cloud services (in this case, Google Apps Script) on top of its core Google Apps resale business.
But Newmind was an early signee into the Google Apps Authorized Reseller program, and Ragusa noted a more formal, considered approach is necessary to bring more traditional VARs along as they transition to the cloud service provider model.
The long and short of it is this: 2012 will be spent furthering Google’s 2011 momentum and plans, he said. After all, building up a channel that can take on Microsoft Office 365’s isn’t a one-year strategy. So Ragusa said, we’re going to see more certifications, more productization of existing Google technology, more integrations and generally more communication.
As far as specifics, Ragusa promised
early (Edit: Google clarifies that they haven’t confirmed a specific timeframe.) that 2012 will bring an update on the general availability of Google Chromebooks to resellers — he said this initiative is too important to rush into. But potentially more importantly, SMB partners won’t just have access to the commitment-free, $5 per-month-per-user billing scheme that Google’s offered since April 2011– they’ll also be able to make their payments to Google on a monthly basis, giving resellers the option of a steady cash flow that matches their customer invoices during the year.
On a final note, I did have one bone to pick with Google during my tour. Overall, my trip to the Googleplex impressed, but really, how am I supposed to take Google seriously as an enterprise-focused company when its slide is closed for maintenance?