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Google Partners Embrace Tech Giant's Enterprise Cloud Mission

Two years' worth of networking and security tweaks and listening to customer concerns have built up to a more mature Google cloud that is ready for enterprise consumption, Google's partner said at Google Next.

Google partners are signing off on Google Cloud, giving the tech giant their blessing as an enterprise-grade cloud provider.

At Google Next 2018, the company made it clear that it wants to go after bigger customers with the help of its partners. Google believes that the recent updates to its collaboration portfolio, G Suite, and the newly-added AI and machine learning features to Google Cloud Platform (GCP), will help them attract enterprises.

"I don't think there's any doubt in anyone's mind how serious Google is about the enterprise in 2018," said Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA Systems, a Los Angeles-based cloud solutions provider and Google partner that specializes in G Suite, among other Google cloud solutions.

[Related: Google Cloud Platform: 5 Bold Statements Made At Google Next 2018]

While Google was an early entrant into the cloud collaboration game, it ran into "perception struggles" because many businesses wrote its tools off as consumer services, said Aric Bandy, president of Agosto, a Minneapolis-based cloud development solution provider that partners exclusively with Google.

Looking back at Google two years ago, some of the concerns around whether the cloud platform was ready for the enterprise were valid, according to Keith Millar, senior vice president services for IT consultant and MSP Pythian, a Google partner.

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene, who has been at the helm for two years, has been a very consistent leader, solution providers told CRN. Greene this week told partners and customers at Next that upon her appointment with the tech giant, she believed making Google more enterprise-friendly was her mission.

She said that in 2016, Google "buckled down" and today the tech giant is a leader in three of Gartner's Magic Quadrants – Infrastructure as a Service, API Management, and Content Collaboration. Google said that it has 1.4 billion Gmail users today, and 4 million businesses are using G Suite, Google's collaboration portfolio.

’If you think about it, Google is an enterprise company but we're just a very modern enterprise company,’ Greene said during her keynote on Tuesday.

But what has really changed since 2016, according to Agosto's Bandy, is the company publicizing its customer stories.

"For a number of years, Google didn't tell their story,' he said. "Partners close to Google knew about their larger accounts and saw some of the disruptive transformation that was happening for these customers, but that wasn't getting told to the market, until now."

Each year at Google Next, the company has touted bigger names now running on GCP. This year, Google highlighted several new enterprise customers, such as Target and Whirlpool, and laid out their specific use cases.

"That is really resonating. CTOs are saying; 'Google is really here' and they want to hear more," Bandy said.

What Google needs from its partner community now is a seat at the table.

"If Google is [an option] during a customer cloud conversation, they are winning their fair share," said Paul Vallee, president, and CEO of Pythian.

Executives for Dev9, a Kirkland, Wash.-based Premier Google partner, said that Google this year has adopted much more of a white-glove approach, which is helping to court enterprise customers.

"As a consumer, you interact with Google through APIs -- there's no way to get hold of a person. Businesses hate that, and many companies told us that Google 'doesn't know how we operate," said Gabe Hicks, CTO for Dev9.

Google, through its partners, is no longer an arm's length away from customers, Hicks said.

"This last year has been amazing," he said. "The tools have always been tempting, but the enterprise needs to know you care about and understand their problems."

Pythian, a Google partner headquartered in Ottawa, also works with Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure. From the start, Pythian always included all three hyperscale cloud providers in every enterprise cloud conversation, much to the surprise of some customers, Vallee said.

"Google entered the scene and cobbled together a brand-new channel focused on its data-centric strategy. It was a shockingly different experience for us working with Google," Vallee said.

Thanks to Google listening to customer concerns and making the right changes in networking and security, the objections that businesses initially had when considering Google for their cloud needs are no longer valid. As such, Google cloud deployments have matured from online gaming companies, to more traditional verticals being represented in its customer base, Pythian's Millar added.

"I think it’s [Google] is a refreshing, interesting opportunity for the channel," he said.

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