Google Gains Channel Momentum

Search giant claims 1,000 authorized resellers in its year-old program.

One year after launching its channel partner program aimed at offering Google Apps to enterprise customers, Google says it's approaching 1,000 authorized resellers. Moreover, a growing number of those who offer managed services are recommending Google Apps, according to a survey released around the same time.

The MSPmentor 100 report for 2010 found that while 68 percent of MSPs now try to sell hosted Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings to enterprise customers, 22 percent promote Google Apps as an option.

The news is noteworthy in that there is much debate about whether Google Apps is a strong threat to the Microsoft Office franchise and Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS).

When Computer Sciences Corp. recently won the $7.2 million contract to run the city of Los Angeles hosted e-mail network with Google Apps, many dismissed its significance. But some held it up as an example that Google and others such as Oracle Corp., IBM Corp. and VMware Inc. may be a credible threat to BPOS and Office and an alternative for partners frustrated with the BPOS pricing and licensing terms.

"Millions of businesses have [moved to] Google -- and our resellers, too, have gained momentum," said Stephen Cho, director of the Google Apps channel program, in a February blog post.

Appirio Inc., a San Mateo, Calif.-based solutions provider that has migrated 15,000 employees at the pharmaceutical giant Genentech Inc. from Microsoft Exchange to Google Apps, is among those who joined the Google Apps Authorized Reseller program, according to Cho.

One of the first to join Google's partner program from the outset was Atlanta-based Cloud Sherpas, which recently moved 950 employees at Lincoln Property Co. from Novell GroupWise to Google Apps.

Cloud Sherpas Founder and CEO Michael Cohn said in an interview that a growing number of enterprises are willing to consider Google Apps as a lower-cost alternative to offerings from Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Novell.

"A lot of decisions are being made based on budgets," Cohn said. "The economy was certainly slow in 2009 and IT departments still have to do more with less, and when they look at Google, it's a great solution."

Despite Google's gains, many analysts say most enterprises are likely to stick with Microsoft's suite and corresponding hosted services, especially as the forthcoming Office 2010 gains more Web capabilities and serves as a front-end to SharePoint 2010.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.