Google Cloud Unifying Partner Sales Teams, Doubling Partner Spending

‘We are reorganizing our entire approach to partnering,’ says Kevin Ichhpurani, corporate vice president of Google Cloud’s global ecosystem and channels.


Google Cloud is combining its ecosystem and channel sales teams into a single partner organization to streamline its go-to-market abilities as it pledges to double spending on partners – including partner incentives — over the next two to three years.

The changes are on tap for the “very significant expansion” that Google Cloud is targeting for its partner ecosystem, according to Kevin Ichhpurani, corporate vice president of Google Cloud’s global ecosystem and channels.

A shift in customer buying patterns is the impetus for combining the previously separate sales teams, which will benefit partners by providing “more opportunities for them to stitch together a complete industry value network to solve a customer’s pain points,” Ichhpurani said.

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“We are reorganizing our entire approach to partnering,” he told CRN in an exclusive interview this week as Google Cloud hosts Accelerate, its annual internal sales kickoff for the year. “We’re bringing together our global systems integrators (SIs), our ISVs (independent software vendors), our technology partners, the Google Cloud Marketplace, our partner engineering and strategic business development functions, together with our global channel sales organization, which would be working with resellers and solution-specific SIs and regional systems integrators…and MSPs (managed services providers)…as well as our Partner Advantage Program.”

The combined organization will be overseen by Ichhpurani, who now will report to Google Cloud sales president Robert Enslin instead of CEO Thomas Kurian. Channel chief Carolee Gearhart, vice president of worldwide channel sales and SMB sales, who previously reported to Enslin, now will report to Ichhpurani.

“I was really overseeing the global ecosystem, our business development functions, as well as our Marketplace and partner engineering functions, and have now taken on the global channel organization as well,” Inchhpurani said.

Customers are moving away from seeing the cloud merely as a cost-saving “lift-and-shift” opportunity and instead are coming to Google Cloud with digital transformation agendas to rethink their business processes or reinvent their business models, Ichhpurani said.

“The innovation agenda is what’s driving a lot of significant cloud purchases,” Ichhpurani said. “(Customers are) looking for us to work with them, together with the services partners and other partners like ISVs to complement solutions. One-to-one partnerships are becoming less and less.”

When Google Cloud is helping a telco transform and move their network functions to the edge or helping a retailer with supply chain issues, it more commonly includes a network of partners to solve customer problems.

“We’re actually having discussions with clients where all the partners are on the line together to solve this problem,” Ichhpurani said. “That’s an evolution of the way partnering is happening and why we wanted to bring all partner types together under one roof. We very much see the future of partnerships and the way we’re pursuing them as what we call ‘value networks.’”

Google Cloud looks at the solutions it’s going to build in the next couple of years and the gaps or whitespace left where partners can build with a high degree of competence.

“Then we’ll build together a syndicate of ISVs, content partners, technology partners, SIs that will co-innovate and build an end-to-end solution for this customer,” Ichhpurani said. “That’s why it was important for us to bring all of this together. And, also, the lines are blurring across partner types.”

Increasing Partner Incentives And Migration Funding

Google Cloud plans to double its spending on partner incentives, from co-marketing funds, to training and enablement funds, to co-innovation funds, according to Ichhpurani.

He would not quantify those increases, but said “partners will definitely see the difference. It’s a very material increase in every category.”

Google Cloud has increased its channel partner funding 10-fold since it launched its revamped partner program – the Partner Advantage Program — in mid-2019, according to Ichhpurani.

“We are also going to be dramatically increasing our migration funding, where we subsidize the partners doing the migrations for customers,” he said. “We’re reducing that cost for customers, and that’s an even bigger opportunity for partners to participate.”

Google Cloud also is making more investments for partners to help source business, including new programs for lead generation and lead sharing with SIs.

“We really want to encourage partners to help us source and grow,” Ichhpurani said.

Solution-Specific SI Partners

Additionally, Google Cloud is orienting more resources toward solution-specific SI partners to satisfy customer demand for partners with deep expertise in areas such as data and analytics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, security and application modernization.

“That’s another big area where we’re putting a focus on in 2022,” Ichhpurani said. “The digital transformation journey is no longer about just migrating the apps, but how do you modernize them and enable the new business processes, which means you need to rethink the application portfolio.”

Google Cloud is increasing investments to help SIs deploy go-to-market programs for industry-specific solutions and to create more pre-integrated industry ISV and Google Cloud artificial intelligence solutions with them.

Doubling Resources For ISVs

Google Cloud, which is seeing significant growth in its ISV ecosystem and revenue from it — is more than doubling its resources to help ISVs “SaaSify” their applications.

“More and more of them want to build cloud-modern architectures, where they want to containerize them, microservice-enable them, leverage the best practices from Google’s SRE (site reliability engineering),” Ichhpurani said.

The cloud provider is “dramatically” increasing the resources to go to market with ISVs by expanding its market development funds pool and its ISV-dedicated regional sales and technical teams.

Google Cloud saw a 550 percent increase in gross third-party transaction value for Google Cloud Marketplace – largely driven by ISVs – in the first three quarters of 2021 compared with the same period for 2020.

It’s also creating new monetization models for ISVs using Google Distributed Cloud to deliver their products across hybrid environments, multiple clouds and at the network edge. ISVs will be able to build industry-specific 5G and edge solutions that leverage Google Cloud’s telecommunication provider ecosystem and more than 140 Google network edge locations.