SAN FRANCISCO – Google intends to include partners in every single transaction, according to Carolee Gearhart, vice-president of worldwide channel sales, Google Cloud. Speaking to media during a partner roundtable at the Google Cloud Next conference last week, she said, “I think for Google, this is a really critically important topic for us, just from a strategic perspective.”
It’s a sentiment that was reiterated by new Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian during his keynote, where he also revealed that there will be enhancements to the partner program.
Gearhart offered more information about the revamped partner programs, saying that Google has created a refreshed partner portal, a competitive solutions hub, and additional solution specific workloads. She said that the hubs include a lot more content, and better availability and access to that content. There’s a pre-packaged ROI story available to present to customers. And the channel organization itself is growing to ensure the most important partners are getting an increased level of investment.
Added Tony Safoian, CEO of Los Angeles-based Google Cloud Premier Partner SADA Systems, “(Kurian) is clearly partner-focused. So it’s partner led, partner first. Partners need a lot of help and enablement and he recognizes that. We need specializations, we need depth, ways to be able to distinguish ourselves from one another.”
There are currently 10 specializations, including the newest three: Marketing Analytics Specialization, IoT Specialization, and Security Training Specialization. Twenty-one partners have already qualified for at least one of these three, Google says. In addition, Google announced at Next that MSPs can now receive an MSP Initiative badge, which comes with rigorous requirements and allows those who earn it to deliver certified expertise to their customers.
Another shift that Safoian noted is the new reliance on partners for technical depth and bringing them into opportunities earlier in the sales cycle.
Wim Los, senior vice-president of Google Alliance at Google’s Global Breakthrough Partner of the Year Atos, said, “It’s early days, but the first thing we are noticing (under Kurian) is an increased focus on giving the enterprise what they need in terms of the advice around how to use all of this new technology. Obviously, something that we as partners feel, is our business in advising and working with customers. But having the right people from Google working with us in the data connection with the customer, explaining what use cases can be developed, and how does that work. In fact, this is an important step.”
He went on, “The second thing that we would applaud even louder is the ambition to start publishing roadmaps on future developments, which we’ve been asking for for a long time. Google as an engineering company was traditionally always late with announcing new stuff, it will be announced probably the day before.”
John HanJoo Lee, CEO of Bespin Global, a managed service provider in China and Korea, and Google’s Breakthrough Partner of the Year for Japan and Asia-Pacific, noted that partners are beginning to gain access to tools that previously were not available to them, thanks to breaking down of silos within Google. He expects to see it come to fruition by year end.
Omer Shai, CMO at cloud-based website development and hosting firm Wix, particularly likes the one Google notion with a single point of contact. As a large partner, he has multiple relationships with various silos at Google, joking, “It’s getting better. At least now they know about each other and we don’t need to start the process from the beginning every time.”
“It’s kind of a data problem,” Safoian observed. “Where’s the relationship and who owns it?”
All four partners are enthusiastic about Google’s primary announcement at the conference, Anthos. A rebranding and extension of last year’s Google Cloud Services Platform, Anthos offers management and interoperability among clouds – Google’s and its competitors’ – as well as with on-premises datacenters. It relies on Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and GKE On-Prem. “If they can make Anthos work,” said Los, “they will change the industry.”