Top 6 Channel Partner News Stories From Google Cloud Next '19

‘We recognize partners are very, very important to Google, and we’re broadening our partner reach and introducing a number of new enhancements in our partner program,” Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian said. “We’re very grateful to all of you -- our partners who have done so much to help us further our mission to be successful as a digital transformation provider.’

Front And Center

On center stage at Next ’19, Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian last week singled out channel partners’ roles in the cloud provider’s enterprise push and new product rollouts, and announced Google Cloud would broaden its partner reach.

Google Cloud plans to substantially expand its go-to-market team and its partner ecosystem that includes reseller, services and technology partners to help sign enterprise customers under new “enterprise-friendly” simplified pricing, subscription models and streamlined contractual terms.

Google Cloud wants to be the best strategic partner for organizations that chose to undergo digital transformation, Kurian said at the annual customer and partner conference in San Francisco.

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“To help you on that journey, we’re massively expanding our go-to-market organization, not just with salespeople, but the technical specialists who deeply understand technology and industries,” Kurian said.

And, he said, “We recognize partners are very, very important to Google, and we’re broadening our partner reach and introducing a number of new enhancements in our partner program. We’re very grateful to all of you -- our partners who have done so much to help us further our mission to be successful as a digital transformation provider.”

Click through to read CRN’s breakdown of channel partner news from Google Cloud Next ’19, including partners’ thoughts on Kurian’s performance 10 weeks into his position, MSP program changes, and new Anthos, open-source and serverless partnerships.

Channel Chief Carolee Gearhart On Partner Program Changes

Google Cloud demoed a “refreshed” partner program portal at Next ’19 that includes an industry solutions hub, a competitive solutions hub and additional solutions-specific workloads.

“There is a ton more content, there is better availability and access to that content,” said Carolee Gearhart, vice president of worldwide channel sales at Google Cloud.

That includes a total-cost-of-ownership tool that essentially allows partners, from a Google Cloud Platform (GCP) perspective, to deliver a pre-packaged, return-on-investment story to present to a customer.

“So there's been a lot of really just meat around what we've added,” Gearhart said.

Google Cloud’s focus is to “make sure the partners that are the most important partners to us are really getting an increased level of investment from us,” according to Gearhart.

Google Cloud also got a great ground game, Gearhart said.

“Put aside the way Google is organized, the way our field goes to market, how we segment the market,” she said. “We recognize (every partner has) businesses in their own right with objectives that they're after, and the win is going to be how do we help you guys accelerate and really optimize for their differentiation. So we have people whose job is -- it doesn't matter what part of Googleland your dollars fall into -- to help make those partners successful. And then I do have folks who are responsible for the alignment on our field organization. Those individuals are aligned to actual field sales reps, where their job is to how do I help you match up the right partner.”

New Reseller And Services Partner Specializations

Google Cloud unveiled three new partner specializations – in the internet-of-things (IoT), marketing analytics and security training -- and announced partners who already have achieved the designations.

“We're focused more on helping the partners differentiate their business around their industry expertise, their solution expertise, and also looking increasingly at the specializations,” said Nina Harding, Google Cloud’s chief of global partner strategy and programs. “If you just define yourself as a services partner, what are you, what's your real value? We're giving a way for them to say, ‘Actually, I have a black belt, I'm like a PhD in this particular area.’ It also allows some of the smaller, very, very critical partners to have a stage.”

Agosto, Atos, Hitachi Consulting, Leverege, Object Computing and SoftServe are partners who’ve earned the new IoT specialization, demonstrating their abilities to connect, process, store and analyze IoT data from dispersed devices at the edge and in the cloud.

The new marketing analytics specialization is for partners with expertise in collecting, transforming, analyzing and visualizing data, and using insights gained to optimize marketing strategy and activations for customers. Partners that have achieved the specialization are 55 SAS, Accenture, BrainPad, Datatonic, Deloitte, Maven Wave Partners, Merkle, NRI, Quantiphi, Publicis Sapient, Servian and

The new security training specialization is for partners who prove success in delivering the GCP curriculum and have at least two authorized trainers dedicated to the track. Partners with this status include ROI Training, QA Ltd. and Jellyfish Group Ltd.

Google Cloud saw partner and developer certifications grow four-fold in the last year, and developer learning hours grow six-fold, according to Kurian.

Customers want to see partners’ success stories with customers, according to Harding. They want to be able to identify partners in their region, with experience in their specific industry and the desired area of expertise, such as data analytics, she said.

“That’s a fundamental shift where we’re starting to really think more conceptually about the customer -- what does the customer need, and how do we help the partners differentiate,” Harding said. “So we're investing quite a bit in case studies and helping the partners build those case studies, helping them demonstrate and show their success.”

Google Cloud also is moving toward helping partners differentiate themselves by market verticals, such as healthcare or agriculture.

“We're headed in that direction,” Harding said. “If our goal is to help the partners differentiate themselves, they're going to differentiate themselves around industry, around product solutions. That’s kind of core if we're going to help them connect with the customers and even connect with our sales reps on our direct opportunities.”

New Managed Service Provider Initiative Badge

Google Cloud is rolling out a new invite-only MSP Initiative badge that comes with more rigorous requirements for managed service providers.

Qualified partners who have met the requirements can deliver certified expertise, more flexibility, cost savings and reduced time to market to their customers, according to the cloud provider.

MSP Initiative partners achieve extensive certification to ensure their skills and knowledge of Google Cloud products, according to the webpage announcing the program, and they’re subject to formal third-party verification of their capabilities, including the ability to manage, monitor, remediate and optimize workloads.

MSP Initiative partners get support from dedicated MSP technical account managers and customer engineering.

To qualify, MSPs must be invited to participate by Google Cloud, achieve the top Premier-level partner status, participate in joint business planning with Google Cloud and dedicate a web page to their GCP practice to help customers understand their strengths and services. Qualifying MSPs also must have a dedicated Google Cloud practice lead or business lead, certify 12 Professional Cloud Architects under Google Cloud’s certification process, successfully complete the third-party audit of their MSP capabilities and publish three customer success stories showcasing areas of expertise to their and Google Cloud’s mutual customers.

Partners on CEO Thomas Kurian

At a Next ’19 roundtable discussion last week, several channel partners weighed in on Kurian and the changes that he’s affected at Google Cloud.

It’s still early on, but Paris-based Atos, a digital transformation company, has noticed an increased focus on getting enterprises what they need in terms of deploying new technology, according to Wim Los, senior vice president of Atos’ Google alliance.

“Having the right people from Google working with us in the direct interaction with the customer, explaining what use cases can be developed and how does that work in practice, is an important step,” Los said. “The second thing that we would applaud even louder is the ambition to now start publishing roadmaps of future developments, which we've been we've been asking for for a long time. Google, as an engineering company, was traditionally always late with announcing new stuff. It would be announced probably the day before. In the enterprise market, it’s probably better to have an outlook.”

Kurian’s character is a bit different from the “typical Googler,” according to Los.

“I would say he's a bit more strict in enforcing the results step by step,” he said.

Kurian is clearly partner-centric, said Tony Safoian, CEO of SADA Systems, a North Hollywood, Calif.-based Google Premier Partner.

“He's been very articulate and crisp with the messaging to us,” Safoian said. “That's the same messaging that Google internally hears in their own sales kickoffs, so it's just the high degree of consistency. It's partner-lead, partner-first. Partners need a lot of help and enablement, and he recognizes that. We need specializations, we need depth, we need to be able to distinguish ourselves from one another.”

“Another orientation that (Kurian) just shifted, which impacts us from the opportunity standpoint is, ‘Look, we’re done with this, we're only going to sell on the basis of having the best cloud, the best security, the best technology like that's our only playbook,’” Safoian said. “Of course we do. We're Google, they expect us to have the best cloud. Let’s learn how to be real enterprise sellers and rely on our partners for the technical depth, even starting from the pre-sales process. It just gets us much closer to the customer much earlier in the sales cycle, which is, I think, what we all dream about.”

Anthos Launch Partners

Anthos, Google Cloud’s new multi- and hybrid-cloud offering, allows customers to build and manage applications across environments -- in their on-premise data centers, on Google Cloud and on rival third-party clouds, including Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Google Cloud announced more than 30 launch partners for Anthos. It’s partnered with Cisco, Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Intel, Lenovo and VMware to give hardware choices to customers who want to deploy Anthos in their own data centers.

Anthos systems integrators partners include Accenture, Arctiq, Atos, Cognizant, Deloitte, DoiT International, EPAM, HCL Technologies, IGNW, NTT Communications, Rackspace, SoftServe, Taos, Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro Ltd. and World Wide Technology. And independent software vendors who’ve committed to integrating their enterprise software with Anthos are Citrix, CloudBees, Confluent, Couchbase, DataStax, Elastic, Elastifile, F5 Networks, Galactic Fog, GitLab, JFrog, MongoDB, Neo4j, NetApp, Palo Alto Networks, Portworx,, Splunk, Sysdig, Tigera and VMware.

Google Cloud’s New Open-Source, Serverless Partnerships

Google Cloud announced a stepped-up commitment to the open-source community through strategic partnerships with open source-focused companies working in the areas of data management and analytics.

“Google has had a long history of developing technology and making it available in open source to foster innovation by developers,” Kurian said. “But recently, the open-source community has found that cloud providers are not partnering with them, but attempting to take away their ability to monetize open source. We at Google do not believe that that is good for customers, for the development community or for software innovation.”

Google Cloud’s new integrated open-source ecosystem allows developers and customers to procure “best-of-breed” open-source technology using standard Google Cloud Credits with a single console and single bill from Google.

Google Cloud will offer managed services operated by open-source-centric companies CloudBees, Confluent, DataStax,, InfluxData, MongoDB, Neo4j and Redis Labs that are integrated into its platform.

Google Cloud also announced a new, fully managed serverless compute platform for containerized applications with built-in portability: Cloud Run, which allows customers to run stateless HTTP-driven containers without worrying about the infrastructure, and Cloud Run on Google Kubernetes Engine. Both are enabled by Knative, an open application programming interface and runtime environment built on Kubernetes.

Launch partners including Datadog, GitLab, NodeSource and StackBlitz will provide integration support for Cloud Run across the application monitoring, coding and deployment stages.