IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Time to Get Serious about Google?

Google is romancing the channel with a focus on its business applications, and some IT providers are tying the knot. By Hank Hogan

GOOGLE IS MUSCLING its way into the business market with a solution set that includes Chromebooks, G Suite productivity products, and the Google Cloud Platform. The search giant appears serious about winning commercial customers too, stressing business applications and the channel this past summer at its annual cloud confab, Google Cloud Next ’18. So is it time for channel pros to get serious about Google as a partner?

Put John McDonald, CEO of ClearObject, down as a yes. A trusted Google partner and IoT systems integrator, McDonald is a fan of Google’s productivity suite and cloud platform. “Both are fantastic in their functionality and very useful to businesses of all sizes,” he says.

He adds that Google is unlike its competition in that it leaves “space” between its offerings and user needs that allows partners to enhance or tailor the cloud platform for specific customers. That lets companies like Fishers, Ind.-based ClearObject monetize innovations repeatedly with many different clients, which McDonald says is a tremendous market advantage. Beyond that, Google offers marketing assistance, training, mentoring, matchmaking introductions to potential customers, and a brand name that opens doors, he adds.

“They [Google] have a will to build a great channel, and that’s pretty much half the battle,” he says.—ROB MOYER, VICE PRESIDENT, SYNNEX

Others appreciate the quality of the search giant’s core platforms. “Those who Google is a good fit for, Google is really the best fit for. It has to do with some of Google’s underlying technology,” says Aric Bandy, president of Agosto, a Minneapolis-based pure-play Google partner and cloud development company.

For example, he says, Google’s machine learning technology goes beyond mere collaboration—a strength of G Suite—by enabling extraction of useful information from mountains of data. Users can easily access it, though, through Google Sheets, a collaboration tool. Consequently, companies don’t need a data scientist to get meaningful insights from millions of rows of data, Bandy says. That ability could be an important differentiator for partners.

What’s more, in the last few years Google has rounded out its product offering, Bandy says, particularly in cloud infrastructure solutions. These capabilities make it possible to port applications to the Google Cloud even in highly regulated industries like finance and healthcare.

Still, Agosto is agnostic when it comes to cloud providers. “Google is not the right fit for every organization,” Bandy says. For example, the company’s rapid growth can make keeping up with who inside the company is responsible for what difficult.

Google is addressing this issue through managers whose job it is to help partners sort such contacts out, according to Bandy. It’s genuinely committed to the channel too, according to Rob Moyer, vice president of cloud services, mobility, and IoT for distributor SYNNEX. “They have a will to build a great channel, and that’s pretty much half the battle,” he says.

Still, Sam Barhoumeh, CEO at ReadyNetworks, a full-service IT and cloud consulting company based in Evanston, Ill., cautions that a total Google solution may not be possible or desirable. A customer, for instance, may need certain collaboration tools due to legacy, regulatory, or other requirements and also have specific virtualization requirements that dictate use of a particular cloud platform. In that case, combining a cloud platform from one vendor and collaboration software from another may be best. Partly for that reason, ReadyNetworks supports all three big cloud platforms instead of putting all its eggs in the Google basket.

This illustrates an important point: Channel partners must know the strengths and weaknesses of each technology and product they offer.

“A partner has to have that deep knowledge in all of the platforms of choice, so that way they can make that value decision on their customer’s behalf,” Barhoumeh says.

About the Author

HANK HOGAN is a freelance writer in Reno, Nev.

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