​Can Google create a channel in Australia?

​Can Google create a channel in Australia?

Reputation counts for nothing as tech giant attempts to lure local partners onto cloud platform.

Sundar Pichai - CEO, Google

Sundar Pichai - CEO, Google

With one of the world’s most instantly recognisable logos, and a brand that has now become a verb, Google’s global reach and reputation is unparalleled.

Not many organisations generate the levels of interest or popularity as the internet search giant.

But in the channel, such a reputation counts for nothing.

Representing new market territory, the vendor is learning how to be a channel-friendly vendor, understanding how to engage with its partner community, while grappling with enterprise approval at the same time.

As outlined during its Google Cloud Next ’17 conference, the unveiling of a revamped partner program represents the cloud provider’s largest endorsement of the channel to date.

And perhaps ARN’s invitation to attend as the only Australian channel publication on the ground in San Francisco further highlights Google’s desire to seek new routes to market.

But conversing with the channel doesn’t come natural to an organisation famed for search engines rather than reseller rebates.

Unsurprisingly, it’ll take time for the 18-year-old multinational to learn the ropes and hit the ground running, such is the complex nature of the channel.

“Google are just building a channel and it’s very early days,” Gartner Research Vice President of Infrastructure Software, Michael Warrilow, observed.

Channel key

Speaking to ARN on the ground in San Francisco, Warrilow said that as cloud becomes front and centre across the industry, Google will be motivated by two core priorities in 2017.

“They are trying to woo the partner community while trying to prove their credentials within the enterprise,” he said. “They are doing a good job on both fronts and it’s a huge improvement from over a year ago.

“But there’s a long way to go. Google’s success to date has largely been non-enterprise, through Software-as-a-Service [SaaS] vendors and individual developers. Now they have to win the hearts and minds of the channel and the corporate executives.”

As reported by ARN, Google has worked hard to stake its claim as a serious cloud contender across the enterprise, backed up by an expansive list of heavy hitting customers migrating to the skies.

But despite a host of multinationals lining up to offer cloud endorsements, Warrilow acknowledged that the road ahead remained long in terms of securing widespread mainstream adoption.

“Enterprise usage for Google Cloud for enterprise workloads still remains very low,” he added. “AWS [Amazon Web Services] has had such a head start in the market and they are doing a great job of maintaining that lead and showing how Google need to do it.”

Google Cloud Next ’17 conference in San FranciscoCredit: Google
Google Cloud Next ’17 conference in San Francisco

To claw back ground locally, plans are in place to launch the Google Cloud Platform (GCP) in Australia this year, in a move designed to increase adoption across the country.

Yet as revealed on stage in San Francisco, the Sydney launch now looks set to be at the back end of 2017, behind deployments in Singapore and Northern Virginia which are set for within the next few months.

“The Sydney launch will absolutely help boost Google’s credentials locally,” Warrilow added. “Until last year the closest data centre to Australia was Taiwan, now it’s Tokyo so it’s gradually getting closer.

“Google are spending $30 billion over the next three years and that’s a lot to deploy but they have the resources that will accelerate this process compared to others in the market. It’s long overdue however, Sydney really should have been 18-24 months ago but when it does happen, it’ll make a huge difference.”

When Google Cloud officially arrives in Australia, the channel stands to benefit from tapping into three availability zones in Sydney, capable of delivering higher performance to customers nationwide.

Much like Microsoft in 2014 and AWS in 2012, the introduction of local data centres is widely expected to bolster uptake at a local level, creating new revenue streams for the channel as a result.

Currently however, Warrilow said Google remained “third in a two-horse race” in Australia, trailing AWS and Microsoft Azure on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) deployments.

Partner potential

Yet as displayed to a record crowd of 10,000 partners and customers, the vendor has the pedigree and technical engineering capabilities to offer services currently lacking from the competition, alongside better Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

“Google stands up well on their technical credibility but they are building a sales force from scratch,” Warrilow said. “They are building a marketing machine and are just learning how to talk to the enterprise which is crucial for the channel.

“Google needs to build an enterprise partner channel because they will need to understand industry verticals and specialisations, alongside talking the language of big business and government.”

Reflecting increased demand for specialist cloud experts in the Australian market, Google’s partner base is evolving through specialisation, as the channel creates value in providing tailored services and solutions.

“They are building out the kinds of capabilities and service offerings that can be monetised and scaled across either a vertical or a specific problem,” Google Cloud Country Manager of Australia and New Zealand, Renee Gamble, stated in the December 2016 issue of ARN Magazine.

“And that’s the key, solving a problem for the customer is where a Google partner will be most valuable.”

Furthermore, and as reported by ARN, Google continues to change global opinion through the hiring of over 1,000 new cloud-focused jobs worldwide, with the vendor also on the hunt to build out its trans-Tasman capabilities.

Specifically, the local recruitment drive will see a new Google Cloud chief lead a team of Google Cloud Sales Executives, Inside Sales, Customer Engineers, Solutions Architects, and Partners within Google Cloud accounts.

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