Can Google Give VARs the Love They Need?

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Ingram Micro is selling Google's search appliance, but at least one analyst questions the search giant's channel savvy.

In a marriage of the technology stars, last week Google and Ingram Micro announced a deal where the world's largest IT distributor would offer search appliances from the world's largest search company.

The move is intended to give Google an inroads into the small and medium business market (SMB) as the company has reached a penetration mark of 9,000 enterprise customers on the large side of the market already.

But while the deal offers a "cool" factor at the outset that is likely to win over many a VAR, at least one analyst is questioning whether these two companies can adequately serve the needs of the channel over the long term.

"On the one hand you have something that should be straightforward to sell, and it might be a good add-on sell for a lot of VARs out there," said Darren Bibby, senior analyst for Global Software Sales Channels at IDC's Software Business Strategies Group. "However, Google and Ingram Micro seem to be saying they are going after the cream-of-the-crop VARs, and they typically expect more from a vendor."

The Google plan is for Ingram Micro to provide the support to these VARs, but Bibby noted that the typical distribution model doesn't allow for a lot of extravagance in terms of service.

"The way distribution works is that everything they do must be very efficient, so there are limitations on what distribution can provide here," he said. And because of that the "cool" factor that initially wins VARs over to selling the search appliance may wear very thin after a while.

And while Google may be unique in offering an appliance-based search, other vendors that already have a channel program may reap the ultimate rewards of the SMB demand for search capabilities. For example, Microsoft offers search capabilities with its SharePoint technology, Bibby said. In addition, there are other, smaller specialist search vendors that could win the business of some VARs.

"Google is basically outsourcing its partner program," said Bibby. "Maybe this relationship with Ingram Micro will teach them some things about the channel."

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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