Google Set to Accelerate Enterprise Push

If you check in with enough sources close to Google, you start to get the feeling that the search giant is preparing to accelerate an enterprise-oriented SaaS (software as a service) push in Q4 2009 or early 2010. Here's what apparently is coming -- and the potential implications for managed service providers.

Let's start with the obvious. At the Gartner Symposium conference this week, Google CEO Eric Schmidt -- a veteran of Sun Microsystems and Novell -- said the enterprise push represents "the next big billion dollar business after the new display (advertising) business." Schmidt also sat down with CNet to further describe Google's enterprise strategy.

Now, let's explore some other chatter. Google is already succeeding big-time in at least one enterprise vertical market: Higher education. With Google Apps Education Edition, the search giant has convinced dozens of universities, colleges and even K-12 schools to embrace SaaS alternatives to Microsoft Exchange and, in some cases, Microsoft Office.

It's a smart strategy: Get the kids hooked on Google Apps in college, and they'll demand Google Apps when they enter the workforce.

Next up, there's chatter that Google plans some sort of marketing push to promote its enterprise strategy. Beyond webinars, you might see a big Google-type event focused on the enterprise market, according to two Google Apps resellers I've heard from.

Balanced Attack

At the same time, Google continues to raise its visibility in front of MSPs and VARs.

In addition to joining MSP Partners (now owned by CompTIA), Google has been on the road this year at a range of MSP-oriented conferences. Next stop: The ConnectWise Partner Summit (Nov. 4-6, Orlando).

Watch for Google to connect the dots between its Google Apps Reseller and Postini email/Web security partner programs, according to this FastChat Video with Stephen Cho, director of Google Apps Channels.

Google Apps also are landing on managed services dashboards. A prime example is Nimsoft's new Unified Monitoring dashboard, launched Oct. 20, 2009.

Mixed Reactions

Still, Google has much work to do in the managed services market. During the recent N-able Partner Summit (Oct.14-16, Arizona), a keynote speaker asked 350 attending MSPs if they currently offered Google Apps to their customers. Two MSPs raised their hands to confirm work with Google. The other 348 people in the room hadn't jumped on Google's bandwagon.

Regardless, MSPs need to keep a close eye on Google. Whether you plan to partner or compete with the search giant, you'll need to understand how Google plans to push deeper into the enterprise -- with our without your help.

More enterprise-oriented news from Google is coming. But I don't know if the plans will surface in Q4  2009 or early 2010. Either way, stay tuned and stay informed.

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