How Google Will ‘Scale’ New Public Sector Division ‘Quickly’

‘Our mission is to accelerate the digital transformation of our government and education customers with our partners,’ Troy Bertram, Google’s public sector channel leader, tells CRN. Here’s what Google Cloud channel partners need to know about the company’s public sector partner charge.


Troy Bertram, executive managing director of Google’s Public Sector Partner Ecosystem

Google hired longtime Amazon Web Services and Dell Technologies executive Troy Bertram this year to drive net-new partner sales and customer cloud wins in the company’s new Public Sector division.

“As the fastest-growing cloud in the market, we’ll scale our work in the public sector very quickly,” Bertram, executive managing director of Google’s Public Sector Partner Ecosystem, told CRN.

“This is all about unleashing the power of Google to advance the mission of government and educational institutions,” said Bertram. “We wake up every morning to work with our channel ecosystem. Our mission is to accelerate the digital transformation of our government and education customers with our partners.”

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Google Cloud’s New Public Sector Division

In June, the Mountain View, Calif.-based cloud giant launched its new dedicated Public Sector organization focused on helping U.S. public sector institutions.

The goal is to accelerate digital transformation for federal, state and local governments as well as educational institutions, said Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian at the time.

“Google Public Sector will provide a full complement of business functions and capabilities—including specialized sales, customer engineering, customer success and services, customer support, channel and partner programs, compliance and security operations—so that our U.S. public sector customers can leverage the full range of technology offerings from Google Cloud,” said Kurian in a blog post in June.

Bertram said Google Public Sector is a “partner-first” division that will provide public sector customers an ecosystem of partners—from systems integrators like Accenture and World Wide Technology and reseller Carahsoft, to ISVs like Palo Alto Networks and SAP.

“We go to market together,” said Bertram. “Government wants to buy an encapsulated solution. They don’t want to buy disparate software applications and infrastructure and professional services. They want a contract vehicle to deliver mission outcomes, or citizen services, or national defense and national security outcomes.”

AWS, Dell And U.S. Army Veteran

Bertram is a longtime IT executive as well as a U.S. Army veteran.

He spent over seven years at Google Cloud rival AWS from 2013 to 2020, with his last role being general manager of business development and partner sales for AWS’ worldwide public sector.

Bertram also spent over 10 years in sales executive roles at Dell Technologies. He left Telos earlier this year as senior vice president of sales and business development to join Google.

In an interview with CRN, Bertram explained Google’s public sector charge, his organization’s channel partner strategy and Google Cloud’s market differentiation compared with AWS and Microsoft.

Describe Google Cloud’s public sector push and what role partners are playing.

Our new division operates as a subsidiary specializing in cloud technology, specifically Google Cloud Platform and Google Workspace, to deliver to our public sector customers—that is our mission.

This is all about unleashing the power of Google to advance the mission of government and educational institutions. We wake up every morning to work with our channel ecosystem.

We launched Google Public Sector in June to focus on helping public institutions. So we define those as federal, state and local government, and educational institutions, and those that primarily serve those markets. Our mission is to accelerate the digital transformation of our government and education customers with our partners.

Inside of public sector we bring together specialized sales, customer engineering, customer support, compliance, security, channel and partner ecosystem together to serve those markets.

Our plan is to continue down the path of achieving the highest levels of government certifications. We know that that’s a requirement and we’re soldiering on against that goal. It means that the capability to manage sensitive government data, we’re committed to protecting this data through our secure zero trust- based infrastructure.

How does your new public sector division view the channel versus Google Cloud? How will Google’s partner ecosystem work together?

I’m proud that Google Cloud is a partner-first business. Our public sector division will operate in a similar manner.

We continue to invest in our partners and programs that work closely with the public sector to deliver the technology and build the technology that ultimately our customers want.

Our partners are key because our customers buy through contracts and technology acquisition. Government acquisition is hard. It’s complex.

For anybody that’s ever read the Federal Acquisition Regulations—and I have it sitting here on a shelf—a lot of it hasn’t been updated in years. So it’s about helping our customers work through acquisition through our existing partner contract vehicles who have the expertise and worked with and established these customer relationships for years and decades.

It’s bringing those partners together as part of the ecosystem, whether they’re GSIs [global systems integrators], SIs [systems integrators], national service providers, distribution, resell— they all are part of our ecosystem.

We have a super solid understanding of how they all seamlessly work together because that’s how our government customers want to buy.

What are public sector customers’ pain points and how are you solving them?

Our customers have struggled to buy cloud when they think about the consumption-based economics of you only pay for what you use.

Government customers and educational institutions have one-year, three-year, five-year budgets that they have to work up against.

Understanding what that budget cycle is and really planning for how to get a firm fixed-price offering for the variability of cloud through a partner channel is exactly what our subscription agreement does.

It helps our partners understand what is encapsulated by a workload or by a project so that they can understand how to price, how to market, how to sell, but then also deliver profitable and professional services that are essential to delivering a government service.

It’s working with those providers that have the expertise in government and in Google products and services to deliver for those customers.

Provide an example where Google Cloud worked with a public sector solution provider to win a deal.

We worked with our partner Carahsoft with the state of West Virginia, providing full access to enterprise- level Google Workspace capabilities with 22,000 state employees.

The state’s switch from a cloud competitor to Google Workspaces was [because] they believed it to be a more flexible, collaborative, secure platform that allows them to better serve their citizens.

The switch is expected to drive $11.5 million in cost savings for the state.

Why should partners pick the Google Cloud Public Sector division over AWS and Microsoft? What’s the market differentiator?

The biggest differentiator is the subscription agreement.

We’re not trying to compete. We don’t have a services business. We’re not building one.

We’re not competing against our partners with an army of service providers.

We are offering how our customers what they want to buy—either as a pay-as-you-go model, or through a subscription agreement that encapsulate how governments go to market and want to buy—or from a commitment perspective, which is equivalent to an enterprise discount plan at AWS or an enterprise agreement at Microsoft.

We give our partners options of how they want to buy or how they want to consume based on their customer environment.

What are some areas where Google Cloud partners are driving public sector deals?

The challenges we know we can help address are around gaining insights and [mproving] government missions to serve constituents in real time; securing the data and [preventing] it from fraud and errors, and [equipping] the workforce for today and tomorrow.

As the fastest-growing cloud in the market, we’ll scale our work in the public sector very quickly.

I encourage all of our partners to begin developing the expertise and service offerings that these customers need.

One of our value-adds of our team is helping stitch together those myriad different partner types that all go to market together around customer requirements.

How are we partnering across these expanded ecosystems? We’re helping our partners scale. We’re bringing new innovative technology to our government customers, and partners are essential to delivering those.

How does Google Cloud’s public sector work with both channel partners and ISVs?

ISVs play a really important role in government and education missions.

Like SAP or Splunk, CrowdStrike, Palo Alto Networks, NetApp, [they all] offer critical software to the public sector that deliver platforms on our trusted infrastructure.

We go to market together. Under that subscription agreement construct, we’re working with our distribution, resellers, ISVs and prime contract holders. Government wants to buy an encapsulated solution. They don’t want to buy disparate software applications and infrastructure and professional services.

They want a contract vehicle to deliver mission outcomes or citizen services or national defense and national security outcomes.

Their primary operations are not IT from a government perspective. They’re delivering citizen services outcomes, national defense and educational missions.

So it’s working through our key partners to help identify the opportunities, help them understand and then how to solution, how to architect, and how to ensure that they getting flawless services.

What are some big challenges for governments that Google Cloud is solving?

We’re increasingly seeing very sophisticated breaches and cyberattacks [and have] estimated billions of dollars in public benefits are lost due to fraud and errors. We’re really focused on helping through our partners.

We completed the Mandiant acquisition recently.

We’re really looking forward to working with our mutual partner ecosystem to continue to accelerate the cybersecurity initiatives, which really is the important underpinning of our government and citizen services.

We’ve also been asked for more choice by government customers from the cloud providers, particularly from innovative born-in-the-cloud vendors who can help them achieve their missions.

There’s a tremendous opportunity for our partner ecosystem to address these growing needs in public sector.

It’s a huge market opportunity for our partners to solution, resell, deliver these services to the public sector on Google Cloud.

Do you want to see existing Google Cloud partners create a public sector division? Is that something Google can help with?

Absolutely. Whether they’re an ISV that’s looking for help to get security compliance accreditation, whether it’s distributors like TD Synnex or Ingram that have great technology on their line card today that want to do government, or whether it’s someone that’s delivering services, like a SADA, that has a great depth of a commercial practice and is one of our Workspace delivery partners— it’s about helping them work into government.

This is a business and industry that I’ve spent decades learning.

How can we help partners transform their business model? And finding the depth of Google practice partners that want into government or those that are have R&D [government] accounts who want to go broadly outside of R&D into production environments—how do we help those partners transform? And how do we help connect them to broader [public sector] contracts—that is the opportunity to accelerate the business.

One of the things that we’re really focusing on is certifications and training.

The government is looking to attract new talent that has cloud-based skill sets. It’s us delivering through educational institutions, cloud-based learning and Google products and services certifications.

But it’s also working with our delivery partners to ensure that we can measure the success of an implementation because that is how you scale, right? Government looks for, ‘Who else has done this inside of my sphere of ecosystem?’ We work to highlight those innovative CIOs that had been transformational.

We’re unleashing the power of Google to advance the mission of government and education.

Google, working with our partners to transform that mission—delivering citizen services, government education, defense—the same way that we have for decades.

Just looking to do one more refresh cycle—that’s not what our customers want. It’s also not how our partners are going to grow their business.

They’re getting pressure from all different sides to grow their own business, differentiate their offerings in the market, and really show a transformational differentiation. It’s about doing government differently.