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First and foremost, I'd like to tackle Harry's assertion that Google's absence at channel events and conferences speaks more than their (potential) presence. It's definitely true that Google hasn't participated in the SMB channel circuit, but then again... why should they? In 2011, they did their own Google Apps reseller road show. This past spring, they did a sequel—Google Apps: Coffee, Cloud, & Conversation.
Let's also consider that Google is known for doing things differently. It literally took them 12 years before doing their first TV ad. And on the technical side, rather than using Hadoop like every other Big Data consumer, they invented their own platform—first Google File System, then Colossus. Oh, and they also create their own programming languages and Linux flavors on a whim.
Google is young and hip and cool. Redmond—and the channel built around Microsoft? We're getting old.
Before I get myself in over my head, let me just say this: Google has their own conference where they do augmented reality skydiving onto the tops of city buildings. Who needs CompTIA?
Google Apps Resellers' Success
Google Apps was on a road to nowhere before Google unveiled their Google Apps reseller program in early 2009. Then, over the course of the following year, their resellers landed deal after deal. Appirio migrated 15,000 Genentech employees (disclaimer: I once owned stock) to Google Apps. Cloud Sherpas landed deals with dozens of companies large and small. Cloudreach inked a deal with Small World Financial Services, with offices across nine countries.
More recently, Google's resellers continue to make major sales. Tempus Nova sold 26,000 seats to the State of Colorado a few months ago; Clould Sherpas has grown to over 1 million Google Apps users under management; and Onix Networking Corp recently scored a $34.9 million, 5-year deal to provide Google Apps to 88,000 U.S. Department of Interior employees.
Why Google Won't Write Off the SMB Reseller
Google recognizes that they need clients both big and small. In fact, Google is interested enough in the small-time customer that they provide Google Apps Standard (for domains with 10 or fewer users) for free. The company knows the value of name recognition and everyday familiarity, and they know that if they want to make headway in the broader IT services space, they need to be on the radar of the US SMBs that account for $5 trillion worth of annual US spending (according to VISA).
What's more, acquiring SMB customers isn't easy. They're usually not quick to jump on the new technology bandwagon, and they're likely to rely on an outside expert for their IT decision-making. That's where the SMB reseller comes into play. Google knows that it needs to have "people on the ground" to represent its interests if it wants to make inroads into the SMB community.
But, at the same time, Google isn't especially interested in "owning" millions of SMB customers. From the get go, Google put billing in the laps of resellers, and they even point potential customers toward resellers on their website for migration and integration services. In fact, on Google's Enterprise blog, the company wrote: "Google Apps Resellers have invested people, time, and resources into becoming an expert on and providing specialized services for Google Apps – so you don’t have to."
The article goes on to say that potential customers should turn to resellers for assessing a move to the cloud, setting up and managing Google Apps, training employees, migrating and managing data, integrating Google Apps with other business applications, and building Google Sites. In other words, Google doesn't want to bother with the hands-on side of providing IT services. They want you to do it for them.