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Google Cloud Taps New Channel Chief: Kevin Ichhpurani Replaces Carolee Gearhart

Donna Goodison

Ichhpurani is adding the channel chief duties to his role as corporate vice president of Google Cloud’s global ecosystem and channels.

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Kevin Ichhpurani has been named the new global channel chief for Google Cloud, replacing Carolee Gearhart, who’s leaving the No. 3 cloud computing provider after more than three years.

The personnel change follows this month’s move by Google Cloud to combine its ecosystem and channel sales teams into a single partner organization to streamline its go-to-market abilities. Ichhpurani is leading that combined organization as corporate vice president of Google Cloud’s global ecosystem and channels.

“We can confirm that Carolee Gearhart is leaving Google Cloud,” a Google Cloud spokesperson said in a statement. “We would like to thank Carolee for all of her contributions to Google Cloud, our partners and customers. We wish her the best in her next endeavor. We recently brought together our global partner teams, and Kevin Ichhpurani will continue to lead our work across all partners.”

Gearhart, who was Google Cloud’s vice president of worldwide channel sales and global SMB sales, is taking on a new role at an unnamed outside technology company said to be a pre-IPO startup. She was unavailable for comment.

Gearhart joined Google Cloud in July 2018 from GE Digital, where she served as chief ecosystem and channels officer for just more than a year. She filled a Google Cloud role that was empty for some 10 months after former channel chief Bertrand Yansouni left the position in less than a year. She spearheaded the revamp of the Google Cloud partner program as Google Cloud Partner Advantage in mid-2019.

Gearhart did an “amazing” amount of work to move the entire Google Cloud partner ecosystem forward, according to Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA, a Los Angeles business and technology consultancy and Google Cloud Premier Partner.

“(She) spearheaded global strategy that brought a lot of new amazing partners from around the world, championed and spearheaded the MSP partner program which is super critical to us and our customers,” Safoian said. “We’re super grateful for the work that she did, and we look very much forward to working with (Bronwyn Hastings) and Kevin more closely.”

Bronwyn Hastings, the former Citrix channel chief who joined Google Cloud last May who has been serving as vice president of global technology partnerships, is shifting to a new channel team leadership role, reporting to channel chief Ichhpurani. Gearhart’s former global SMB sales responsibilities now will be handled by Greg Tomb, vice president of sales, Google Workspace, security and geo enterprise.

Gearhart’s departure comes as Google Cloud this month pledged to double spending on partners — including on partner incentives — over the next two to three years.

“They continue to invest more in the channel ecosystem, so I think changes over time are inevitable,” Safoian said. “(Gearhart) did what she was brought there to do. They announced a bunch of things around doing more with partners and through partners, so overall we’re very excited about this year and beyond.”

Ichhpurani has been at Google Cloud for five years. He also came from GE Digital, where he was executive vice president of emerging industry solutions and global channels.

In an interview with CRN this month, Ichhpurani said the streamlining of Google Cloud’s partner organization and go-to-market teams was prompted by a shift in customer buying patterns.

“We are reorganizing our entire approach to partnering,” he told CRN. “We’re bringing together our global systems integrators, our ISVs (independent software vendors), our technology partners, the Google Cloud Marketplace, our partner engineering and strategic business development functions, together with our global channel sales organization, which would be working with resellers and solution-specific SIs and regional systems integrators…and MSPs (managed services providers)…as well as our Partner Advantage Program.”

The change will benefit partners by providing “more opportunities for them to stitch together a complete industry value network to solve a customer’s pain points,” according to Ichhpurani. Customers are moving away from seeing the cloud merely as a cost-saving “lift-and-shift” opportunity and instead are coming to Google Cloud with digital transformation agendas to rethink their business processes or reinvent their business models, he said.

“The innovation agenda is what’s driving a lot of significant cloud purchases,” he said. “(Customers are) looking for us to work with them, together with the services partners and other partners like ISVs to complement solutions. One-to-one partnerships are becoming less and less.”

Under the change, Ichhpurani now is reporting to Google Cloud sales president Robert Enslin instead of CEO Thomas Kurian.

Pythian, a Google Cloud Premier Partner, is excited to work with Ichhpurani as Google Cloud takes a more “holistic” approach to its partner ecosystem, said Vanessa Simmons, senior vice president of business development for the New York-based data, analytics and cloud services company.

“Pythian plays many roles within that ecosystem -- as a solutions integrator and partner to many ISVs, an MSP, reseller and subcontracting partner and more,” Simmons said. “We look forward to a unified experience that provides even more efficiencies, leverage, programs and incentives that ultimately benefit our joint customers, and a strong advocate voice for partners reporting directly to Rob Enslin.“

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