Google Casting Wider Net For Cloud Partners With New Three-Tier Channel Program

Google on Thursday launched an expanded channel program for its Google Cloud Platform, which casts a wide net for partners with the skills and expertise to drive demand for its cloud services.

Before today, Google had two classes of cloud partners: Technology partners, which are typically vendors selling tools that integrate with its platform, and Service partners, a group that includes resellers and other firms that offer consulting and implementation services.

Now Google is rolling out a full-blown three-tier channel program with a structure similar to that of traditional enterprise vendors. The top level, called Premier, gives partners "access to premier level services" in addition to the core program benefits, Mark Hodgson, Google's head of global partner programs, said in a blog post.

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The middle level, called Authorized, gives partners "branding, relationship management, and access to online resources and training," while the entry-level tier, Registered, includes access to online resources and training, according to Hodgson.

"These tiers are the first steps of many to further develop our partner community so we can provide the best possible experiences for everyone out there while working hand in hand with those companies that make it possible," Hodgson said in the blog post.

Some of Google's existing Services partners are jazzed about the expansion. The expanded cloud program will give partners a more economic incentive to pursue cloud opportunities, Doug Shepard, president of the Google business at Cloud Sherpas, an Atlanta-based Google partner, said in an interview.

"Google has the technical capability and skill set to immediately be a clear No. 2 to Amazon [in the cloud market], and, eventually, challenge them for the top spot," Shepard told CRN.

As is the case with the Google Apps channel, creating tiers will help businesses identify the best partners to help them use Google Cloud Platform services, Allen Falcon, CEO of Cumulus Global, a Google Apps Premier SMB Reseller, told CRN.

"It's a good move for Google and the market, and further demonstrates that Google's channel programs continue to rapidly mature," Falcon said.

Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA Systems, a Google Premier Enterprise Reseller based in North Hollywood, Calif., told CRN his company has been eagerly anticipating a more formalized cloud channel program from Google. "We're excited about the opportunity in this evolving and growing market," he said in an email.

Launched in 2012, Google Cloud Platform includes its Compute Engine Infrastructure-as-a-Service, its App Engine Platform-as-a-Service, cloud storage and big data services, as well as developer tools.

Google has signed up 161 Cloud Platform partners so far, which "provide everything from hands-on deployment and technical support to customized application development," Hodgson said in the blog post.

Google on Thursday also unveiled a technology track for its Google Apps partner program. Third-party developers that build tools that complement Google Apps will now be recognized as partners, and Google will provide them with technical, marketing and sales support, Rahul Sood, managing director of Google Apps, said in a blog post.