Google Adding Partner Certifications, Programs Around Advanced Cloud Skill Sets

At its Horizon event in San Francisco, Google Thursday introduced updates to its partner program to reflect the elevated role the channel will play in deploying and managing cutting-edge cloud solutions.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based technology giant is adding two new certifications for channel partners: cloud architect and data engineer.

Those certifications recognize partners that become proficient in the skills increasingly important to customers deploying advanced solutions, said Tariq Shaukat, president of Google's customer engineering efforts.

[Related: Google Acquires Orbitera, Pledges 'Support For The Multi-Cloud World']

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Google will also expand the structure of its channel with two new program tracks, Shaukat said.

A Service Partner Competency Program will focus on fostering the skills to specialize in specific Google Cloud technologies, such as the new machine-learning platform, Google Cloud ML.

Google will also introduce a new Managed Services Provider program.

Google is "deepening engagement with managed services providers," said Shaukut, who head's Google Cloud's customer-facing operations. "And you can expect to see more."

Paul Vallee, CEO of Pythian, a Google partner based in Ottawa, Canada, that tackles complex database infrastructure projects, said the certifications and competencies are "important check box items that you need to have."

"The reality is some of this stuff is legit hard," Vallee said, "and if you go about it the wrong way then Google ends up with egg on their face because of the failed project or proof of concept."

For that reason, Google has an important role to play in validating third-party solution providers, he said.

Google cloud chief Diane Greene told Horizon attendees "we deeply embrace partnering at Google."

Greene then called attention to a new relationship with Accenture before welcoming to the stage Accenture CTO Paul Daugherty to discuss the alliance with the global systems integration giant.

One reason Accenture is deepening its ties to Google is that "artificial intelligence is the big thing that is going to transform business in the next 20 years," Daugherty told attendees.

The technology is "unlike anything we've ever seen," Accenture's CTO said.

Through the new partnership, Accenture and Google will launch a Joint Innovation Center to together build business solutions, and a Center for Excellence to help implement them.

Accenture is one of 13,000 partners bringing Google Cloud to market, Shaukat said.