Found: A Different Path to Google Apps Profits

Found: A Different Path to Google Apps Profits

Instead of trying to profit from Google Apps alone, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based solutions provider has written an integration module that synchronize Google Apps Enterprise and Education editions with enterprise directory services. The company, Concensus Consulting, apparently has lined up 100,000 customer seats so far. Here's their story and the implications for managed services providers.

First, a quick math lesson. Google Apps costs roughly (U.S.)$50 per user per year. VARs and MSPs that resell Google Apps get to pocket $10 per user per year. Sign up 1,000 customer seats and you've only made $10,000 in recurring revenue. At first glance, that's not much of an opportunity, considering most MSPmentor readers seem to be serving smaller accounts with 100 seats or less.

Custom Code

Still, there are creative ways to unlock more profits from Google Apps. Consider the situation at Concensus Consulting, an Authorized Google Apps Reseller located near Pittsburgh, Pa., that specializes in identity and access management. I spotted Concensus at the Novell BrainShare conference earlier today. During our informal chat, Guesman described the company's Google Apps Integration Module to me.

According to Guesman, the module:
"makes it possible to synchronize user information and distribution lists from your directory service -- such as Novell eDirectory or Microsoft Active Directory -- to Google Applications Enterprise and Education Editions."
So, what exactly does Concensus's Google Apps Integration Module Do? Guesman says it automates account provisioning and de-provisioning for employees, seasonal staff and contractors. And in a school setting, it's ideal for managing faculty, staff and students -- where user bases churn extensively.

The solution requires Novell Identity Manager 3.x and Google Apps Premier or Education Edition. In theory, Concensus is bringing enterprise-class identity and directory management to Google Apps -- a smart move, considering many CIOs aren't willing to abandon on-premises applications precisely because of security and identity management concerns.

How much is Concensus making from the solution. Guesman didn't get into pricing with me... but you can bet Concensus is making more than the base $10 per user per year opportunity that Google offers its resellers.

Next up, Concensus plans to promote the Google Apps Integration Module within the recently launched Google Apps Marketplace -- which already includes links and descriptions for dozens of Google-compatible applications.

More Google-Related Moves

Concensus isn't stopping there. The company has a business relationship with OffiSync, which allows end-users to work in Microsoft Office while collaborating in Google Docs. The tool also allows users to add collaborators and permissions within Microsoft Office.

Concensus has also partnered with Cloud Technology Solutions, which promotes tools for migrating customers from Microsoft Exchange and Novell GroupWise to Google Apps.

Moving Beyond Reseller (Again)

The anecdotes above reinforce the notion that merely reselling Google Apps is a commodity game. To differentiate, you're going to need to wrap some business integration services around Google Apps. We'll keep watching Concensus Consulting to see if their strategy is the right one.

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