Google Changes Channel Program Branding, Wants Partners To Diversify Beyond Google Apps

Google, as part of its move to ditch the "enterprise" label for its business products, is also simplifying its partner program branding, a Google spokesperson told CRN Wednesday.

Google is now using the Google For Work label for its business focused versions of Google Apps, Maps, Search and Chrome, as well as Android and Cloud Platform.

Google’s partners are now also categorized under the Google For Work label regardless of the size of customer they cater to. Google is keeping its top-level Premier branding in place.

[Related: Google Dumps 'Enterprise' Branding, Renames Business Products 'Google For Work']

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"As part of our new name announcement yesterday, we simplified our partner program branding so that all partners, regardless of size or product focus, are now referred to as a Google for Work Partner or a Google for Work Premier Partner," the spokesperson said in an email.

The changes Google is making to its channel program go deeper than that. Sources told CRN that Google is putting more emphasis on partners selling multiple products from its portfolio.

The vast majority of Google partners today sell Google Apps, but the search giant wants them to branch out into other offerings. Google will soon require partners to have a multi-product revenue mix in order to qualify for Premier status, sources said. Google declined comment.

SADA Systems, a North Hollywood, Calif.-based Google partner, is already well down this road, having sold a variety of Google business products for the past few years.

In addition to Google Apps, SADA Systems sells developer-focused versions of Google Maps and Google Earth, as well as the Cloud Platform portfolio of infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service, according to Tony Safoian, the company’s president.

"We always thought this approach made sense. Email and search are not, in themselves, strategic. But start combining these and other Google products, and you can make big changes to the way organizations get work done," Safoian told CRN.

Google is taking a page from Microsoft’s recent playbook by showcasing how its business products can help organizations work more efficiently. The search giant is well known to consumers, but is less of a household name with larger organizations, where Microsoft dominates with Office 365.

By getting rid of enterprise branding, Google is pitching its product portfolio as a one-stop shop for organizations of all sizes.

"They want to continue pushing the envelope on how organizations think about IT, and branding is part of that," Safoian said of Google’s efforts. "The message is about giving customers tools that have consumer-grade ease of use and functionality, but are also powerful enough for businesses."

Dave Monk, CEO of Berkeley, Calif.-based Google partner ArcSource Consulting, is bullish on Google’s enterprise and partner program rebranding.

"There are many Google customers that aren’t enterprises, so getting rid of that brand makes sense," he said.

ArcSource, a Google SMB Premier partner that has been working with the search giant since 2009, only sells Google Apps but would be willing to diversify into Chromebooks and other products, Monk said.

"We have been told by Google that we’re not allowed to sell Chromebooks. If that changes, we would sell them. The margins are small but this could open the door to services," Monk said.

Not everyone is thrilled about Google’s partner program rebranding, however.

Lane Campbell, a board member with Durmic Consulting, a Chicago-based partner that sells multiple Google products -- mainly to midsize and enterprise firms -- likes that Google is getting rid of the enterprise label but isn’t pleased about the partner program branding change because he thinks it could confuse customers.

"We’re better equipped to handle midsize and enterprise customers than small partners," Campbell said.