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How A/NZ partners can help Google win the cloud war

How A/NZ partners can help Google win the cloud war

Tech giant outlines blueprint for partner success as channel plans become reality on both sides of the Tasman

Ash Willis - Head of cloud partners and alliances JAPAC, Google Cloud

Ash Willis - Head of cloud partners and alliances JAPAC, Google Cloud

Google Cloud has outlined its priorities for partner success across Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ), as the tech giant turns channel aspirations into market reality.

Speaking to ARN at the Google Cloud Summit in Sydney, the vendor outlined the framework in which cloud can be delivered through the channel, with partners front and centre of local enterprise ambitions.

Spanning independent software vendors (ISVs); system integrators (SIs); born-in-the-cloud players; developers; consultancy firms; managed service providers (MSPs); global system integrators (GSIs) and telecommunications firms, the Google Cloud ecosystem is as varied as it is deep, housing a contrasting but complementary collection of partners.

Today, a Google Cloud partner is specialised, collaborative, a developer of applications and a builder of code. But crucially, on occasions, cut from a different cloth.

“We have recognised that we require a different type of partner to take us into the future than what we have had in the past,” Google Cloud head of cloud partners and alliances Asia Pacific and Japan, Ash Willis, told ARN.

“If you look at some of the channel partners we’re bringing on board into our ecosystem, that really helps demonstrate this approach.

“We’re working hard to on-board those partners and they are also recognising that we now have enterprise credibility. Customers are now asking for Google Cloud solutions which is driving a huge amount of conversations.”

In taking on the role of local and regional channel chief six months ago - following a career spanning Amazon Web Services (AWS), VMware, Hewlett-Packard, Citrix and Express Data - Willis has observed a changing partner ecosystem, an ecosystem that continues to evolve at a rapid rate.

“Not long ago, GSIs were that ones that carried out the big deals, SI covered the medium deals and telcos had a role to play also,” he added. “But I think we’re starting to see that ecosystem change now.

“We’re seeing some relatively small SIs that have deep technical capabilities engage with some incredibly large customers, not just here in Australia but also on a global basis. And we have partners locally that have expanded their business globally based off our enterprise customers.”

Willis’ appointment aligns with long-held plans by the tech giant to build a cloud-centric channel locally, in a bid to lure the enterprise onto the Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

But despite a drive into the large end of town, the vendor is adopting a quality over quantity approach within the context of the channel.

“Our strategy is not to have tens of thousands of partners,” Willis explained. “We want to pick the right partners that we can work with to meet the needs of our customers and help them be successful through Google Cloud.

“But at the same time, we also want to ensure that our partners are successful. A lot of vendors can make the mistake of forgetting that a partnership is two ways. We want to be conscious that we partner in the right way to deliver the right outcomes to our customers.”

Conversely, Willis was quick to stress the importance of large strategic players currently operating within the Google Cloud ecosystem, but emphasised that as the channel evolves, the role of the partner evolves in parallel.

“They have a role, but not necessarily the same role that they have played over the last 10 years,” Willis explained. “Customers are not just demanding technical capabilities, but also project governance, managing financials and a whole range of services which more established partners have great expertise in.”

In short, Willis is building a broad ecosystem of partners housing different skill sets and capabilities, lending the tech giant to different types of alliances across Australia, such as Intuit, an accounting software provider targeting small businesses.

Rick Harshman - Managing director of JAPAC, Google Cloud
Rick Harshman - Managing director of JAPAC, Google Cloud

“We’ve done some great work with Intuit and they have a strong presence across the small to medium business segment,” Willis added. “We’ve worked to leverage Google technologies within the Intuit platform to drive better outcomes for small businesses. We hope this is the first stage of a much more interesting partnership.”

Specialist skills

In a bid to compete against AWS and Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud is encouraging specialisation across the channel, rewarding partners that are laser focused on providing unique and differentiated solutions to customers.

“The days of a partner offering everything to everyone is becoming harder and harder,” Willis said. “It’s difficult to be a generalist but at the same time provide the depth that customers want and need.

“That doesn’t mean that those partners won’t exist, but I think that we’ve already seen a lot of consolidation around the SI space. Today, even mid-size customers have half a dozen or more relationships with different technology providers.”

As a result, Google Cloud is requiring partners to not just invest in specialisation once, but on an ongoing basis, in recognition of emerging technologies flooding the market.

Specialisation therefore creates a need for collaboration within the channel, as partners seek to form ecosystem alliances to take niche solutions to market.

“We’re seeing more coopetition than pure competition,” Google Cloud managing director of Asia Pacific and Japan, Rick Harshman, told ARN. “Technology is moving too quickly for you to just draw such a hard line in the sand.

“Those hard definitive statements used by companies competing so hard against one another is coming to an end.”

For Harshman, situations are now arising where large partners engage with smaller, boutique providers to meet the new demands of the customer.

Likewise, ISVs are gaining prominence across the market, as the appeal of being global from day lures application builders to the cloud.

“Asia Pacific creates a really interesting opportunity when you think of technology partners,” Harshman added. “Because it’s not just going to be for the big players such as SAP or Red Hat.

“For example, more than 3,500 ISVs operate across India alone - consider the regional and global ambitions that can be achieved through the cloud.”

Harshman outlined a reality where developers and application builders can expand globally through Google Cloud, bringing new solutions to customers and markets across the world.

“If ISVs partner with Google Cloud and develop offerings as part of a global cloud-based solution, that creates a strong business proposition,” he added. “An ISV could have tens of thousands of customers which creates multiple opportunities, which is a key area of the channel that we’re promoting.

“It’s our role to understand who the consulting partner is but also who the ISV partner is within the customer equation. Because once we have that broader picture then we can be more prescriptive in terms of how we solve customer challenges today and also as they evolve.”

Gaining ground through GCP

Google’s increased push into the channel follows the launch of GCP in Australia only two months ago, with Sydney becoming part of the nine regions, 27 zones and 100 points of presence comprising the global GCP footprint.

“There’s been substantial customer uptake since launching locally,” Harshman said. “We’ve obviously had a number of customers running on Google Cloud for years but there was a high level of demand in the region locally, and we’re thrilled to finally be able to deliver on that demand.”

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