Google Cloud’s Partner Power Play: 5 Things To Know

CRN breaks down the No. 3 cloud computing player’s organizational and personnel moves to help fuel growth through partners.

Th ere’s been some big changes for Google Cloud’s partner and sales organizations already this year as the No. 3 cloud computing provider looks to fine-tune its internal teams to grab more market share and drive more growth through the channel.

Among the developments: Google Cloud has merged its ecosystem and channel sales teams into one partner organization led by Kevin Ichhpurani to streamline its go-to-market strategy. Ichhpurani also is adding channel chief duties to his role as corporate vice president of Google Cloud’s global ecosystem and channels. And Google Cloud has created a new North American partner-facing team within its direct sales organization that’s dedicated to bringing partners into more customer deals.

The moves, coupled with Google Cloud’s vow to double partner spending in the next two to three years, are designed to prime the provider for a very significant expansion of its partner ecosystem, Ichhpurani told CRN.

“We are reorganizing our entire approach to partnering,” he said.

Partners and investors will get an updated look at the progress that Google Cloud is making when it releases fourth-quarter earnings results on Tuesday for the three months that ended Dec. 31. Google Cloud’s third-quarter revenue, which primarily comes from fees received for Google Cloud Platform and Google Workspace’s collaboration and productivity apps, had increased 45 percent to $4.99 billion compared to the same period last year.

Here’s a breakdown of the top organizational and personnel moves made by Google Cloud in the meantime.

The New Partner Sales Organization

With the combination of its ecosystem and channel sales teams into a single partner organization, Google Cloud is bringing together its global systems integrators (SIs), independent software vendors (ISVs), technology partners, Google Cloud Marketplace and its partner engineering and strategic business development functions with its global channel sales organization that includes resellers, solution-specific and regional SIs, managed services providers and its Partner Advantage Program.

Ichhpurani attributed the change to a shift in the way customers buy cloud tolls and services and said partners would get more opportunities to “stitch together a complete industry value network to solve a customer’s pain points.” Under the change, Ichhpurani now will report to Robert Enslin, Google Cloud’s global sales president, instead of CEO Thomas Kurian.

Deloitte Consulting’s Tom Galizia views the tighter coupling as “very positive.”

“Instead of being true standalone, partners can be more deeply entwined to the sales org with (Enslin),” said Galizia, global chief commercial officer of the Alphabet/Google practice for the Google Cloud Premier Partner. “Instead of having two sets of enabling teams, they’ve brought it under one umbrella, which is a good move...because you’re in the exact cockpit at the same time with sales. It’s just clearer lines of reporting, and everybody’s on the same set of priority focus areas.”

Doubling Spending On Partners

Google Cloud this month said it would double spending on partners in the next two to three years.

The areas of investment will cover partner incentives including migration, co-marketing, training and enablement, and co-innovation funds, according to Ichhpurani, who declined to quantify the planned spending hikes.

“Partners will definitely see the difference,” Ichhpurani told CRN. “It’s a very material increase in every category.”

Google Cloud also pledged more investments to help partners source business, including new programs for lead generation and lead sharing with SIs. It’s targeting more resources to solution-specific SI partners to answer customer demand for partners with deep expertise in areas such as data and analytics, artificial intelligence/machine learning, security and application modernization.

“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,” Ichhpurani said.

Increased investments also will help SIs with go-to-market programs for industry-specific solutions and the development of more pre-integrated industry ISV and Google Cloud artificial intelligence solutions with them.

Google Cloud will more than double its resources to help ISVs “SaaSify” their applications and is 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.

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, according to Ichhpurani. 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.

Ichhpurani As The New Channel Chief

Carolee Gearhart, Google Cloud’s channel chief for the last 3.5-plus years is leaving Google Cloud for an outside startup, and Ichhpurani is taking on the channel chief title.

Ichhpurani came to Google Cloud in 2017 from GE Digital, where he was executive vice president of emerging industry solutions and global channels for a year. He previously worked as a senior partner of global markets for Ernst & Young (EY) after ending a 12-year tenure at SAP, where he was executive vice president of business development and global ecosystem.

“If you look at (Ichhpurani’s) lineage… it’s pretty interesting,” Deloitte’s Galizia said. “He understands large-scale global SIs with his work at EY, then he understands ERP (enterprise resource planning) because he was at SAP for a long time. He also was at GE Digital, so…think about edge, 5G and some of the things going on there.”

Galizia describes Ichhpurani as a “very cerebral, very sharp, market-savvy executive.”

“He’s an essential member of the leadership wheelhouse of Google Cloud,” Galizia said. “He’s very hands-on in the biggest priorities that matter to Google Cloud as it relates to the partner community. He’s a text-availability-type guy -- same day, connect if needed on any topic on any day. He operates on the principles of trust, transparency and radical candor, which is one thing that has been true of our entire partnership.”

Gearhart, meanwhile, oversaw a period of 5x growth in Google Cloud’s partner ecosystem during her tenure that started in July 2018 -- before Kurian joined as CEO six months later – according to the cloud provider. Google Cloud partners were involved in six times as many eight-figure deals last year compared to 2018, and they won four times more deals in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2018.

New Duties For Bronwyn Hastings, Greg Tomb

Bronwyn Hastings, who joined Google Cloud last May and currently is vice president of global technology partnerships, will have a new unspecified channel leadership role on Ichhpurani’s team under the reorganization.

The former channel chief at software maker Citrix, Hastings (pictured above) was a senior vice president of development for SAP and senior vice president of ecosystems and channel for SAP in Asia-Pacific and Japan. She also is a nearly 14-year Oracle veteran, where her last role was senior vice president of edge and acquired product channels.

Greg Tomb is assuming Gearhart’s former global small and midsize business sales responsibilities. Tomb has been vice president of sales, Google Workspace, security and geo enterprise since moving to Google Cloud last May from SAP, where he was last president of global cloud sales and go to market.

There was no word from Google Cloud on new titles for Hastings and Tomb.

Anderson Leading New North America Partner Team

Google Cloud has created a new North American partner team within its direct sales organization that will serve as the “voice of the partner.”

The goal is to bring partners into more and high-value customer deals, according to Jim Anderson, who’s leading the group as managing director of North American partner ecosystem and channels.

Our goal is to make it easier for partners to engage with us and to create a more predictable experience for our partners,” Anderson told CRN via email. “Our team will interface directly with our channel and with our own sales organization in North America to proactively identify opportunities to bring partners into deals. We are particularly focused on bringing partners into longer-term, high-value services projects with customers, where we know partners can leverage our technology to drive business impact.”

Anderson previously led sales for Google Cloud’s U.S. southeast region. A veteran of BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, Cisco, Dell, HP and Accenture, he joined Google Cloud in 2018 from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, where he was vice president and general manager for cloud service providers. Anderson also sits on the go-to-market advisory board for CapitalG, Alphabet’s independent growth fund.