Google has overhauled its partner program, including pouring investments into incentives such as low-cost loans, co-funding and cash rebates, and told partners to focus on machine learning and analytics.
The company used a presentation to partners at its Cloud Next conference, which takes place on 7-10 March in San Francisco, to explain how it will broaden its partner program to encompass a greater array of Google product lines, including G Suite (formerly Google Apps), Google Cloud Platform, Maps, Devices and Education.
Google is introducing four specialisation for partners: application development, data analytics, machine learning and infrastructure. It revealed the first partners to have achieved these credentials, with Accenture already approved across all four areas and PwC in three.
Google told its partners at Cloud Next that it had invested capital of nearly US$30 billion to build its cloud in the past three years, as well as spending US$2 billion per year on security. Now the company is increasing its investment in partner incentive programs.
Premier Partners will be eligible for low interest loans to help them "grow their teams". Google is also "expanding how co-funding can be used to accelerate a deal, enabling partners to use funds for early-stage strategy workshops, in addition to building a proof of concept or supporting customer deployments".
The company will expand discounts for GCP and G Suite resellers with a boosted rebate program for all Premier G Suite and Premier GCP Reselling Partners. "Cash rebates reward growth so partners can increase profitability and reinvest in their business."
Google has two tiers in its cloud program: partner and premier. Standard partners get "access to a robust set of resources to help them with their customers — everything from technical resources to marketing and support". The premier badge "is reserved for partners that have demonstrated higher levels of competency and performance. Premier Partners receive further exclusive opportunities and support, including marketing funding, designated partner manager support, exclusive training and events and co-marketing.
Don McLean, managing director of Fronde Australia, said: "It means Google are getting really focused on making partners successful and profitable. With the Google data centre becoming available in Sydney in 2017, they are making sure partners like Fronde have all the ingredients to make a big difference in the Australian cloud market."
Other Australian partners at the session told CRN that Google hoped to win share against cloud leader Amazon Web Services by focusing up the stack, rather than competing on vanilla workloads. According to the most recent data from Synergy Research, AWS had 40 percent of the global IaaS and PaaS market, while Google, Microsoft Azure and IBM combined had around 25 percent.
They also expected an increasing focus on enterprise customers driven by Diane Green, the VMware co-founder who was appointed head of Google Cloud in November 2015.
Peter Moriarty, director of Sydney-based IT Genius, said: "Google have spent the last year re-organising their sales organisation around Google Cloud encompassing both G Suite and GCP, with sales teams now setting up to sell both.
"This is indicative of a larger push for Google Cloud Platform globally, with many new GCP availability zones coming on board, including Sydney in the coming months. This also signifies a more unified brand for Google's Cloud suite which, in my opinion, will help customers better understand and explore Google's business tools.
"On the infrastructure-as-a-service front, they are certainly playing catchup with AWS well in the lead, however, Google are serious about the enterprise and the partner summit has shown that they are also serious about engaging with partners on building their cloud business. Diane's efforts over the last year of shaping GCP as a more enterprise-friendly and channel-friendly offering are showing," said Moriarty.
Luke Alexander, director of Melbourne-headquartered Shine Solutions, said: "Google see their competitive advantage right now as being in the analytics and machine learning space.
"This is a big and welcome change from the traditional Google 'win with the best technology approach' – although the best tech is a key competitive advantage of Google's especially in the analytics and machine learning space."
Google announced the coming launch of Google Cloud Platform's Australian region in November, with three availability zones set for Sydney.
"The takeout for Australian Google partners is that Google are going to be a key player in the cloud space this year and going forward, with particular product advantage in the machine learning and analytics space," said Alexander. "With the Google data centres set to open up in Sydney later this year it creates a real opportunity for Google to play a significant part in the cloud options for Australian organisations and partners."
Google also used the conference to announce an array of alliance partners aligned with Google Cloud Platform, including Intel, Veritas, Engnyte and Check Point.
With Intel, Google is launching several initiatives and market education efforts covering the internet of things, its Kubernetes container architecture and TensorFlow open source software library.
Veritas is bringing its data management solutions to the Google Cloud to offer customers reduced storage costs along with data management and information governance capabilities.
Egnyte has announced plans to integrate its content collaboration solution, Egnyte Connect, with Google Docs.
Check Point's vSEC cloud security solution is now available on GCP "to deliver extended cloud security across public, private and hybrid clouds".