February 1, 2022
Google Cloud partners know a lot’s in flux at the world’s third-largest public cloud provider. The exact extent of those changes, though, still seems to be sifting out a bit.
Like its counterparts Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud prefers to announce personnel and big strategic shifts internally — and unless someone leaks emails or other information to the press, it’s often hard to know what’s really going on inside the vendors.
The recent Google Cloud reorganization serves as a prime example. While most observers and Google Cloud partners know by now that Kevin Ichhpurani has replaced Carolee Gearhart and Jim Anderson has been appointed to bring more partners into the direct sales team, getting direct insight into those happenings can take time.
To wit, Google Cloud’s media relations team tells Channel Futures it will be “later in Q1” before we can interview Ichhpurani on the record. Ichhpurani now holds the title of corporate vice president, global ecosystem and channels; he previously went by corporate vice president, head of global ecosystem and business development. (Gearhart is said to be heading to a tech startup, which sounds much like the path of former AWS exec Sandy Carter.) Meantime, Google is only allowing us to interview Anderson by email, and we are awaiting responses.
But there’s more activity behind the scenes. CNBC scored some emails that provide a little more context. First up, Ichhpurani now reports to Rob Enslin, president of cloud sales at Google. He had been accountable to Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, who, over his three-year tenure has had no qualms about instituting shakeups to try to get his company more competitive against AWS and Azure. As part of the latest changes, Bronwyn Hastings will help Ichhpurani take care of Google Cloud partners, while remaining responsible for the technology and application partnerships team.
Changes that Could, at Last, Bring Profit to Google Cloud
According to CNBC, Enslin wrote in the aforementioned email that Kurian intends for the changes to support “organizational focus of accelerating sales globally.” In other words, a company that has yet to turn a profit is anxious to do so. (At least, that’s the case a couple hours ahead of parent company Alphabet’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Feb. 1. But the chances of Google Cloud reversing its giant operating losses within one quarter seem slim.)
Next, a Google spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that Google Cloud is working to bring dispersed teams under one roof that leads with partners. Indeed, that’s much of Anderson’s charge and we will learn more once we hear back from him.
SADA’s Tony Safoian
“The structure of channels reporting to, and hence being considered to be just an extension of, the sales organization is exactly where it belongs,” he told Channel Futures this week. “That’s exactly how we think of ourselves, and that’s exactly how we want to partner with Google in the field. Our intention is to help them scale.”
But Google Cloud can do more for its partners, like SADA, Safoian said. As Ichhpurani takes over the channel program, Safoian wants to see more Tier 1-type partnerships for MSPs.
“Some of us have very big ambitions, and multiyear, multibillion-dollar global growth plans in way that’s different than other partner types,” he said. “I still think there is a tremendous opportunity for Google Cloud to re-imagine what that type of partnership looks like. The energy and focus on the GSIs — we need a version of that for MSPs who have a remarkably different business model and affinity to Google Cloud.”
On Gearhart’s Legacy, Hopes for Ichhpurani’s Leadership
That’s something Gearhart didn’t have time to finish, Safoian said.
“Her global go-to-market perspective was insightful as she was the first person to truly hold this position within Google Cloud with this scope,” he said. “It was also her attention on SMB that made us realize what an opportunity that is for us as a key market segment. She pushed the envelope with new, critical programs like MSP and other incentives.”
Gearhart “accomplished so much in a short amount time,” Safoian added. (Gearhart started leading Google Cloud partners in July 2018. She fell short of the average 4.2-year shelf life of a channel chief. “The tenure of these jobs is short … due to the heavy stress and workload they come with,” Forrester analyst Jay McBain told Channel Futures last week. “The hyperscalers are growing at 50% each quarter so it isn’t a performance issue.”) If Gearhart had had more time, Safoian said, he would have liked to see her establish that Tier 1 partnership he now hopes Ichhpurani will oversee.
Channel Futures has asked other Google Cloud partners for their thoughts as well. We also have interviews scheduled with industry analysts so we can examine some bigger-picture trends forming throughout the cloud computing channel. Stay tuned.
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