Potential ConflictsBy Sharon Linsenbach | Print
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Google's launch of a formal reseller channel partner program for Google Apps Premier Edition could be considered a pre-emptive strike against Microsoft, as the Microsoft Office Web Applications aren't scheduled for release until 2010. Still, a channel partner of both companies says Google's new program stacks up with the best of them.
On an FAQ page devoted to the new program, Google states, "While the per user list price of Google Apps is likely much lower than the cost of your clients' existing systems, that doesn't mean a lower total margin for you. The change in paradigm to SAAS [software as a service] and the constant incremental improvements from Google mean a wealth of new recurring revenue opportunities for resellers, integrators and other solution providers."
Google adds that "because Google Apps is so affordable, customers have more budget for additional valuable services from you," and refers to deployment, change management and data migration as examples of revenue-generating services.
Another potential point of conflict is that the program lacks a deal registration component. This means there's always a chance partners could be undercut by other solution providers or even by Google itself. Google aims to address that concern by stating: "We fully recognize and appreciate the complementary role you play as a solution provider in bringing these products to business customers … With this reseller program, you own the relationship with your customers. You create and sell a complete solution that includes Google Apps and your own services, you bill your customers for the solution you design, and we encourage you to provide front-line support as well. We're also working to improve the level of control that you have over the customer experience and delivery of Google Apps."
Despite these potential sticking points, Healey says he believes he'll be able to successfully juggle both Google Apps and Microsoft Office suite products in his linecard. He says it is simply a matter of determining which solution is the best match for his customers' needs at the time.
"It's true that Google Apps are broadline applications that are directly comparable to [Microsoft] Office and Mail. But we have always taken a vendor-agnostic approach, and we'll continue to do so," says Healey.
Healey says for most organizations there are areas where SAAS is a perfect fit for the business model, but it's a matter of considering each customer on a case-by-case basis. For example, for a customer whose work force is geographically spread out, a cloud-based solution like Google Apps might be more appropriate. But a more traditional, centralized organization where all employees are under one roof might be better suited by an on-premises solution such as Microsoft's current Office suite.
Regardless of any potential conflict, Healey says he's excited about the opportunities Google offers.
"There's a lot of built-in interest based on the Google name, the functionality and, of course, the price point," he says. "It's a great time for them to move forward with this program."