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Google Unveils Enterprise Partner Program

Today Google launched Google Enterprise Professional, a new partner program designed to help customers maximize the search behemoth's enterprise offerings.

"As we've expanded the capabilities of the enterprise products, it has become clear that many of our customers can use expert guidance to get maximum value from their Google search deployment," the company said of the new program. "Google Enterprise Professional partners can provide that assistance by offering customers a variety of professional services including enterprise integration, installation, customization and training."

According to Google, the company currently has 2,000 customers for its enterprise products.

To become a Google partner, companies are required to choose a specialty (customization, integration or development), become certified via online training and testing, and pay a $10,000 fee. As part of the application process, potential partners are also required to submit at least one customer success story.

Benefits include Developers Edition Google Search Appliance, access to Google developer consultation and logo use.

Already, 13 companies are featured in a referral database for the program. One partner is Chicago-based Michael Cizmar and Associates, which joined the program a month ago. Cizmar is also a Microsoft Registered Partner and is currently working on projects that integrate SharePoint, PlumTree and Google search technologies.

Michael Cizmar said that while he's been disappointed by other partner programs in the past, including Microsoft's -- "We never really got what we wanted out of it" -- he's been told that Google's program will be selective in who is allowed to join, using criteria such as location and specialty to reduce competition between partners. He also likes that he's already had more direct contact with Google representatives than he has with any other partner program, saying: "It’s structured to be a little bit more successful ...We're very pleased."

A Google spokesperson would not directly say how selective the partner program would be, but did comment: "Anyone can apply to be a part of Google Enterprise Professional program. Google is looking for organizations that will add value to Google enterprise customers. In some areas, there may be a greater need for a partner based on the location of the customers."

Stephen Graham, group vice president of software business strategies at IDC, commented that the $10,000 fee "suggests to me that Google is either working with or targeting companies that they already have a relationship with," he explained. "It would be difficult to sell that to someone who's fresh in the business."

Otherwise, he said the program appears to be fairly straightforward and a "nice platform [for Google] to be able to go in many directions."

While he doesn't think Google's partner program will have any impact on Microsoft ISVs or other partners, he does think Microsoft itself will take notice: "I would suspect that this program ... might get Microsoft to think more about how it's positioning its own products and capabilities to its partners."

"I wouldn't expect an immediate reaction ... this is something that would happen over time."

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Enterprise Computing and Education Groups, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital strategy for the groups. She also serves as executive editor the ECG Web sites, and you'll even find her byline on PureAI.com, the ECG group's newest site for enterprise developers working with AI. She recently gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web technology may impact publishers' bottom lines. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.