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One of Google's Top Partners Makes Play for Microsoft's Cloud

Atlanta, Ga.-based ISV BetterCloud is readying a version of its popular Google Apps management solution for Office 365.  

BetterCloud was founded by CEO David Politis in 2011 after leaving Cloud Sherpas, a major Google Apps reseller. As the vice president of SMB solutions at Cloud Sherpas, Politis says he oversaw the migrations of thousands of organizations from legacy and on-premises technologies -- mostly Microsoft Exchange -- to the cloud, and found a need for more powerful monitoring tools to help partners and customers manage the new platforms.

BetterCloud built a successful business around an eponymous suite of security and management tools for Google Apps. The suite launched as a completely free product for about 18 months, says Politis, before switching to its current "freemium" model where the core monitoring and alerting tool, called the Domain Health and Insight Center, is free to install and other components are add-ons.

Based on distribution, BetterCloud is Google's biggest ISV partner. It counts 50,000 organizations from over 130 countries as customers of the Google Apps solution, ranging from small, 10-person startups to enterprises with upwards of 150,000 employees. Now, the company is hoping to find similar success in the Microsoft ecosystem as it readies a public beta of BetterCloud for Office 365.

There's a particular trend that Politis observes in the Microsoft channel around Office 365 that he believes BetterCloud can capitalize on.

"There seems to be a very big push now around adoption of more workloads inside of the Office 365 suite. We're seeing organizations that maybe have rolled out the mail portion, but now they want to roll something out for document management. Or now they want to roll out Lync," he says. "And as that happens, we believe that our solution can be used by the MSPs or SIs that are working with these customers to monitor adoption of those workflows. "

There doesn't seem to be any shortage of interest from the customer side, either, according to Politis.

"'Do you have this same product for Office 365?' We started getting that more and more" from customers, Politis says. "And when we started doing our research and interviewing customers, we realized that categorically, this...need existed."

There were three particular aspects of the BetterCloud Google Apps solution that Politis says Office 365 customers expressed interest in: the automated workflows, the document security functionality and the Domain Health and Insight Center (below).

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"They were very interested in a similar type of functionality for Office 365," he says.

BetterCloud launched a private beta of its Office 365 solution earlier this year, and a public beta is scheduled for mid-April. The company hasn't announced a general availability date yet, but Politis says the finished Office 365 suite will "be completely free for a while" before switching to the same freemium model as the Google Apps version. The goal of this approach, according to Politis, is to ramp up adoption.

"We want, like we got on the Google side, tens of thousands of organizations using the product. That's important to us, so that's what we'll be doing on the Microsoft side, as well," he says.

The company says that about 70 customers have been testing the private beta, but based on customer conversations, Politis estimates that up to 2,000 more are interested in signing up for the public beta.

"We're making sure that we can support that kind of scale," he says.

Politis credits the channel, which makes up 40 percent of BetterCloud's business, for the overwhelming interest in the product.

"Some of these partners that I've talked to that are [working with] both Google and Office 365, they have customers that are interested. On the Google side and the Microsoft side maybe more so, the channel is very important to us," Politis says. "They're really the trusted advisers to these customers, even more so in the cloud world because it's an ongoing, evolving software, and they're actually having to have more touch points with the customer. So we work very hard on the channel side to create those relationships."

BetterCloud for Office 365 is the company's first Microsoft-oriented solution. To help with its launch -- and with navigating the Microsoft world in general -- the company in February tapped former Dell executive Michael Tweddle to be its chief strategy officer. Tweddle worked extensively on solutions for the Microsoft stack at Dell, where he was the executive director of product management for Windows.

Tweddle's appointment is a boon for BetterCloud's effort to secure a foothold in the Microsoft ecosystem, Politis says.

"[Microsoft] is definitely a very established market and established ecosystem, and it helps to have people who have spent time in it."

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.