Look Out AWS And Azure – Google Is Betting Big On The Enterprise Channel

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When Diane Green took the helm of Google's cloud division in November 2015, the internet services giant was at a crossroads, and partners were growing frustrated.
They believed they had bet on a public cloud provider with game-changing technological capabilities — leading software development talent, mastery in data center operations, unrivaled network capacity. But for the most part they weren't winning deals against their hyper-scale competitors.
Google just didn't understand the enterprise, a market segment with different dynamics from its legacy consumer business, partners concluded. Marketing was off-message, feature development was slow, outbound sales was an afterthought.
Most of all, its sales leaders, through predilections and programs, weren't positioning partners to compete against those bringing Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services to market. Greene was a breath of fresh air — the former VMware CEO from day one articulated to partners a comprehensive, battle-tested vision for transforming Google's cloud business into an enterprise powerhouse.
"It had not played out the way Google hoped it would with some of these solutions," Aric Bandy, president of Agosto, a Minneapolis-based Google partner, told CRN. "Under Diane they shifted to focus on what the market wants."
But while Greene, senior vice president of Google's cloud businesses, has been credited with some notable wins since then — revenue-rich customers like The Home Depot and Spotify, even quietly signing Apple — many Google partners told CRN those deals belie the fact that the comprehensive enterprise posture she laid out has yet to take root.
"The changes Diane Greene is making are coming a little bit slower than we expected," said one Google cloud partner who asked not to be named. "I do think their messaging has gotten more crisp and is targeting the enterprise more strategically. It would be great if they could accelerate their actions to match that messaging now."
Some partners fault resistance stemming from Google's entrenched consumer culture for slowing Greene's transformation. At the same time, they are cautiously optimistic big changes are finally imminent.
Google's Cloud Next conference, held in San Francisco in March, put front and center new enterprise-focused leadership, messaging, products and sweeping channel program changes. "One of the reasons I joined Google," Greene told attendees during her keynote, "[is] we're leveraging almost two decades of innovation and technology really built for the kind of enterprises we have today, or we're starting to have."
It wasn't lost on partners attending the event that Greene had swapped out much of the management beneath her and filled many key positions with people she recruited from VMware and other companies with enterprise pedigrees, especially in alliances, sales and marketing departments.
"VMware was very much a partner-driven sales motion, just like most enterprise software companies are, and Greene has set the same expectation for Google," said Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA Systems, a Los Angeles-based Google partner. 
Google's new channel chief, Bertrand Yansouni, a former colleague of Greene's at VMware who previously ran channel for big data specialist Cloudera, revealed to partners at the start of the conference a major program revamp to reflect the realities of enterprise sales and reduce channel conflict.
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