Google Cloud A Powerful Tool For Partners Willing To Adapt

At Monday's Google Cloud Platform Live event in San Francisco, Google demonstrated for partners how it is building a cloud that offers a powerful platform for developing and administering the next generation of cloud-native applications.

As cloud prices plummet, the Mountain View, Calif.-based online computing giant is attempting to differentiate itself from a crowded field with a strategy that creates opportunities for channel partners -- at least those willing to think beyond the traditional VAR business model.

Shailesh Rao, director of Google's global cloud business unit, described an expanding partner ecosystem, "both on the technology side and on the implementation and service side."

[Related: Google Cloud Platform Live Unveils Google's Next-Gen Cloud Offerings ]

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"Yes, we want to support partners and make sure they're successful," Rao told CRN.

But that success won't be possible forever through a traditional reseller business model. With cloud prices dropping on a monthly basis, reselling Google's cloud -- or any public cloud offering -- at a margin isn't a viable long-term business model, Rao said.

"We look at companies that can offer reselling as one component of adding value-added services," he said of the company's partners.

The most successful Google partners are systems integrators building applications on top of the platform and "monetizing it in whatever way makes sense for them," Rao told CRN.

That strategy will make the channel business sustainable, and is a win-win for both vendor and partner, he said.

One Google Premier partner that fits that mold, and is seeing tremendous growth, is MediaAgility, a cloud solution provider based in Princeton, N.J.

Rajesh Abhyankar, the company's CEO, told CRN that resale dollars, while nice, "are not an attraction."

"The biggest value for us is to be the early mover, have developers certified on all these technologies, and to add more value beyond it. The only way is to build solutions," Abhyankar told CRN.

Abhyankar founded MediaAgility with two partners in 2011 after selling his previous company, a New York-based systems integrator focused on the financial services market. The new company has grown into a global presence, with offices in India, London and Singapore, and last year, MediaAgility was named Google's Partner of the Year for the Japan/Pacific region.

The born-in-the-cloud company wanted to immediately focus on next-generation technologies, and not long after it formed, started working almost exclusively with Google's cloud.

"I've seen that Google has been in a unique position compared to Amazon and Microsoft because what Google is really trying to do is open up the technology that they've had for the last 15 years," he said.

Instead of scraping the margins, Abhyankar said solution providers need to start thinking about how they can take advantage of powerful features of the Google Cloud to add real value for business customers.

Abhyankar told CRN he sees his company as a "cloud solutions company." MediaAgility resells and manages Google Apps and Google Maps, as well as developing custom applications on Compute Engine and App Engine, the IaaS and PaaS offerings.

He said his company's success came from thinking out of the box -- not pursuing the traditional VAR model and, with every month that passed, reselling a cheaper product.

NEXT: The Hybrid VAR

Google has cut prices five times since March on several features of its cloud. At the same time, it has launched new features enabling developers to build ever-more-powerful business solutions.

"The speed with which things are changing is truly exponential," Abhyankar said.

At Monday's event, the Google cloud team made it clear that it believes Linux containers, and the Docker platform, are the future for cloud-based development and application hosting.

"Today, we saw the move toward containers. The speed with which that's taking off is truly amazing," said Abhyankar.

While Docker integration was the central theme of the keynote, Google also shared how its acquisition of Firebase was going to empower partners to develop mobile applications.

"What was missing before were tools for developers like us to rapidly build realtime applications on mobile," he said, adding he believes the Firebase technology will now fill that void.

"It's really the combination of these technologies that we think, for a company like ours, can really deliver business value. Cloud platform alone is, to me, the whole industry," he said.

Docker, Firebase and other emerging cloud features can fuel channel businesses that evolve into a hybrid of developers, systems integrators and resellers, he said.

"From a channel perspective, it's creating new opportunities than the traditional managed service providers or VARs. Companies like us can do all of these things together with the focus of creating business value," Abhyankar told CRN.

He said he sees Google taking market share from its public cloud competitors with those kinds of innovative products, and much of that market coming from startups and midsize companies.

Google's willingness to take proprietary, state-of-the-art technologies it has developed internally and share them with its cloud partners is what makes the company such a unique vendor, he said.

"Google has done amazing technology innovation. You need partners like us to make sense of it and actually deliver solutions that solve business problems and deliver value in amazing ways that were not possible earlier," Abhyankar said.