Wanted: Channel Know-How For Google Enterprise Push

Dave Girouard, general manager of the company's enterprise group, says yes, but he won't go into detail.

Some specifics can be found, however, by "googling" Google's job page. As of last week, the company was looking for a head of channel programs, as well as managers of strategic partner development for its Google Print, multimedia and wireless groups. There were also listings for partner managers in the local search, Google Print and strategic publisher syndication units. And there was a posting for strategic partner managers in publishing and strategic partnerships.

Google, Mountain View, Calif., wants to push its technology into the broad spectrum of small, midsize and large businesses and federal agencies, Girouard said.

"We try things in the consumer world and make sure they are well- and thoroughly tested. And I think we have other products that could be good in the enterprise," he said.

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Google's lineup, which grew out of its successful search business, now includes e-mail, Blogger, Orkut social networking, news, maps and satellites—all of which are useful to business users, he said. Google also sells two hardware appliances that bring its search know-how into businesses.

But whatever the company decides to offer, simplicity will remain critical. "The early products were very simple and limited in what they could do and straightforward in deployment, and that's still the case," he said. On the other hand, the company has made its offerings much more extensible over time. "There is certainly room for integrators who want to do new and creative things with them," he noted.

The Google name carries a lot of weight for solution providers. Many said that if the company could come up with a way for them to profit from it, they would leap aboard.

Partnering with Google "never occurred to us, but if they called, we would certainly be interested in having the discussion. They have a lot of brand value that could be leveraged by partners," said David Via, vice president of business development for The Wolcott Group, a Fairlawn, Ohio-based e-mail solution provider.

MICHAEL GROS contributed to this story.