The 10 Biggest Google Stories Of 2014

The World's Greatest Computing Power

There's no entity in the world that controls more raw computing power than Google. In 2014, the search-engine giant that still derives the lion's share of its revenue from advertising, made bold moves to expand into the consumer and enterprise markets.

While the following list involves diverse product lines and target markets, the big picture is coming together. The Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant is connecting its emerging cloud platform with an expanding constellation of Android and Chrome-powered products to offer an increasingly intelligent and integrated set of solutions for consumers and businesses.

10. Google Apps Referral Program

When Google unveiled its Google Apps Referral Program in early March, giving a $15-per-seat award to current Google Apps customers referring others to its SaaS products, the channel was left wondering how it might affect their own businesses.

While there was some consternation about customer-to-customer referrals undermining resellers, in the end it was much ado about nothing. As time went on, many Google partners told CRN that the reseller and referral programs were complementary and could happily coexist.

9. Resignations

Two of the biggest surprises from Google this year came in the form of resignations of two senior executives, both heading important product groups.

In April, Senior Vice President Vic Gundotra (pictured), also known as Google's 'Social Czar,' announced his resignation through Google+, the social platform he helped create.

In October, Andy Rubin, the Google executive who co-founded the company that developed the Android operating system Google acquired, said he was leaving Google to focus on an incubator for technology hardware startups.

Rubin was senior vice president of the company's mobile business until March 2013, when he stepped down to focus on special projects within Google.

8. Google Glass Partners

Google welcomed its first round of Google Glass certified partners in June.

Hundreds of enterprise developers applied for the Glass at Work partnership, ready to introduce smart glasses into the world of big business.

7. Cloud Development Tools For Android And Chrome

Urs Holzle (pictured), senior vice president of technical infrastructure, unveiled several new tools to make Google Cloud Platform more powerful for developers at the Google I/O conference in June.

Cloud Save, Cloud Debugger, Cloud Trace and Cloud Monitoring are productivity features that will make it easier for developers to build cloud-based applications for the Android OS and the Chrome browser, two platforms that are starting to offer overlapping functionality.

Google also introduced cloud platform integration into Android Studio, a feature intended to simplify the process of adding a cloud-based back end to mobile apps, and Cloud Dataflow, a managed data processing service that can just as easily analyze realtime, streaming data flows as it can batch sets.

6. Android Wear And Android For Cars

Also at Google I/O in June, Google showed its developer community how Android would move beyond phones and tablets.

Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai shared the search giant's vision of smartwatches, laptops, TVs, cars and homes all talking to each other.

Google execs demonstrated a new Android-powered smartwatch, one element of an upcoming Android Wear line of products. They also showed a demo for Android Auto, which enables voice commands to access navigation maps, phone contacts and music playlists while driving.

All those new interconnected products should create opportunities for the channel.

5. Tiered Channel

Google rolled out a full-blown, three-tier channel program for Google Cloud Platform in March to bring in more partners with the skills and expertise to drive demand for cloud services.

Previously, Google had two classes of cloud partners: technology partners that were selling tools that integrate with the platform, and service partners, including resellers and other firms that offer consulting and implementation services.

Google's three-tier channel program implemented a structure similar to that of traditional enterprise vendors. The Premier level gave partners added services in addition to the core program benefits.

Now Google is again preparing to revamp its channel structure in a move that will likely limit the number of Premier partners, but offer those that remain in the top class higher commissions.

4. Cloud Interconnect

Google introduced enterprise-grade connectivity to its cloud at its Google Cloud Platform Live event in November.

Google Cloud Interconnect is a suite of connectivity options that will enable solution providers to offer enterprise customers more secure, lower-latency network connections to the Google Cloud Platform that fit their specific needs and capabilities.

As Greg DeMichillie (pictured), Google's director of product management, told attendees in a keynote, "You can't have a great cloud solution without great networking."

3. Docker Partnership

At Google Cloud Platform Live, Google wholeheartedly threw its substantial weight behind the open-source Docker project.

At the event, Google execs told attendees Linux containers represent the next big disruption in IT, and Docker has become the de facto industry standard.

Google is a pioneer in the field of containers, having used the technology internally for more than a decade to create virtual computing environments. Google had already been advancing Docker through the Kubernetes project, aimed at simplifying the process of managing fleets of Docker containers.

At Google Cloud Platform Live, Google revealed a fully hosted version of Kubernetes, called Container Engine, to simplify the process of creating and managing large Docker clusters.

2. Nest Acquisition Sets Stage For Internet Of Things

Google's foray into the emerging Internet of Things market took a major step forward in February through the acquisition of Nest Labs for $3.2 billion.

Nest helps Google enter the smart home of the future through products like the Learning Thermostat, smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors. Expect these devices to become interconnected with Google's other products and platforms to create complete solutions for monitoring and managing the home and all its appliances.

1. Google For Work

This is the year that Google got serious about winning a substantial share of the business market.

With the new push into the enterprise space came a rebranding, signaling Google's intention to compete with rivals like Microsoft and IBM.

Google For Work encompasses a range of business-focused products like Google Apps, Maps, Search, Chrome, Android and Cloud Platform. The goal, according to a blog posted by Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt (pictured), is to align the branding of Google's business products with the manner in which customers are using them.

Google has become a lot more channel-friendly in the process, realizing it needs partners to win enterprise customers.