For skeptics, Google Apps represents consumer-oriented SaaS applications that aren't really designed for enterprises. But poke your head inside the new Google Apps Marketplace, and you'll begin to see just how serious Google is when it comes to pushing SaaS deeper into businesses. Here are some observations for managed services providers who are trying to decide whether to cooperate -- or compete -- with Google Apps.
As our own Matt Weinberger notes over on The VAR Guy, the Google Apps Marketplace gives ISVs "a way to integrate their products with Google Apps and sell them to a huge-and-growing customer base."
Visit the Google Apps Marketplace and you'll find plenty of business-oriented applications, including:
- Accounting and Finance platforms - This could be a prime opportunity for PSA (professional services automation) software providers. In related news, NetSuite say it's launching NetSuite for Google Apps
- Administration tools - I think it's safe to say RMM (remote monitoring and management) tool providers will need to give this area a look
- Customer relationship offerings, including PBX and CRM options
The MSP PictureAt first glance, solutions providers can't make much money off Google Apps. The annual revenue opportunity for partners is only (US)$10 per user per year. Assuming the Google Apps Marketplace works as advertised, it could allow VARs and MSPs to focus on broader opportunities -- rather than basic Google Docs engagements.
Google's timing for the Google Apps Marketplace is certainly intriguing. The marketplace launches only days after Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said the company was "all in" on cloud computing. And later today, Microsoft Channel Chief Allison Watson will further explain how partners can potentially profit from cloud applications and platforms -- such as Windows Azure and BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite).
Microsoft has spent a year evangelizing Azure and BPOS. In stark contrast, the Google was mum about its marketplace plans -- until the Google Apps Marketplace arrived today. I know quite a few MSPmentor readers who are kicking BPOS's tires, though some readers are worried about thin revenue opportunities and Microsoft managing customer billing. Now, we'll be watching to see if MSPs start promoting their Google Apps expertise in the Google Apps Marketplace.
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