Channel key for Google Cloud

Approach taken by public cloud player shows partners are critical to its growth ambitions

When discussions about “old” and “new” channels are held, the question about how vendors cater for born-in-the-cloud as well as traditional partners is always mulled over. It is a question that is asked of all vendors, including those that are often regarded as traditional.

The need to appeal to all partner types is a challenge for any channel director, but how does it work for a firm that is coming to the market from the cloud direction? Perhaps lessons can be learnt from hearing how a player like Googler Cloud approaches the channel.

It probably helps that the firm has chosen Simon Aldous, who has plenty of experience of partnering, to be its channel director for Google Cloud UK. He shared his views on the way the firm is approaching partnering and the value that it wants to bring to partners. Here are his replies to MicroScope’s questions.

How do you segment and work with the channel given the different partner types, ranging from born-in-the-cloud to traditional resellers and emerging MSPs?

Aldous: Given the surge in cloud deployments since 2021, we have relied heavily on our partners, whether they are resellers, managed service providers (MSPs), independent software vendors (ISVs) or system integrators (SIs), to support custom implementations and create the best value for our customers. To meet this growing customer demand, we have brought together our ecosystem and channel sales teams into a single partner organisation, which provides a vital bridge between Google Cloud and our customers. 

The channel partner ecosystem is a fundamental piece of our operation to work with our partners, and we are continuing to grow our ecosystem with trusted partners to relocate to, implement and transform their organisation in the cloud.

This year, we are increasing our investment with SIs in deploying new go-to-market programmes for industry-specific partners, in addition to building more pre-integrated industry ISV and Google Cloud AI [artificial intelligence] solutions together with our channel partners.

Is it a challenge taking everyone along with you – particularly those that are not moving at the same pace as the cloud consultants?

Aldous: The move to cloud has necessitated that partners review and evolve their business and financial models to align with a cloud consumption methodology. This is not necessarily something that all partners want to do or are able to do, and so the question should be more about taking those partners with us that want to go on the journey.

The foundation for all of our partners is the Partner Advantage Programme, through which all of our partners have access to a wide array of information, tools and learning paths to help them navigate the journey with us. This includes self-service and in-person options and allows partners to tailor to their own time and resource options. The alignment of either a field-based partner development manager or access, through the Partner Programme, to a Partner Advantage partner development adviser will also aid the time to market and speed of progress through the training, accreditation and enablement.

We also use our own business analysis tool, called the Partner Blueprint for Success (PBFS), to help our partners understand what is important in building out a successful partnership and how they can build capacity, competency and capability and do so quickly and efficiently. PBFS looks at leading and lagging indicators around the business pillars of people, process and performance and makes recommendations as to how a partner should focus, invest and accelerate their journey with Google.

How do you make sure that all partners – including influencers and those delivering the service – are rewarded?

Aldous: Our partners are a crucial part of Google Cloud’s mission to bring the cloud to more organisations. We do this through providing a vast offering, from migration support and solutions built on our platform to value-added services.

In the last year, we have significantly expanded Google Cloud’s incentive portfolio as part of our Partner Advantage Programme. This involves investing further in partner programmes to build their long-term growth and profitability. Most recently, we have broadened incentives to reward partners who have sourced and increased customer engagements, as well as delivered outstanding customer and implementation services. We also reward partners for implementation for larger enterprise customers.

Also, we honour and reward our partners through our successful Google Cloud Partner Awards Programme. These awards have been designed to empower and recognise partners around the world who have developed industry-leading solutions, which have helped our customers to solve the biggest challenges businesses face today. We are proud to have recently announced our 2021 winners, which include Accenture, Deloitte, HCL and Fivetran.

Do you speak regularly to partners to make sure your programmes and messaging remains up to date?

Aldous: We are constantly communicating with our partners to ensure our programmes and channel messaging are simple, easy to work with and are consistent across all areas of the business. Not only are we keeping our partners updated with our channel messaging and services through internal comms, but we also communicate and educate our partners on new updates, applications and benefits of our platform through Google events, such as Google Cloud Next. 

We also have our own Partner Advisory Council, which provides an important and direct connection back into the HQ and field organisations.

How are you supporting partners around some of the big issues – skills, sustainability and diversity?

Aldous: At Google Cloud, we are constantly exploring strategies to accelerate sustainability, diversity and the skills gap within the industry, including for our partners.

As part of expanding our incentive portfolio within our Partners Award Programme, we deliver an extensive toolkit to leverage Google’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) resources to our vast partner ecosystem. This also involves providing programmes to create inclusive marketing strategies and deploy DEI training within our partners organisations.

In addition, one of the challenges we are attempting to solve is to inclusively increase the pool of available cloud-skilled individuals who work with Google Cloud. In a bid to tackle this and provide inclusivity to our partners, together with our charity partner Generation UK, we recently launched a new cloud training programme called Project Katalyst.

The programme has been specifically designed for underrepresented and underprivileged individuals who are looking to gain professional employment and soft skills, alongside more technical cloud skills. In most industries, certain areas of the tech sector still struggle with diversity and inclusivity. However, Project Katalyst further demonstrates how Google Cloud is supporting its partners by providing them with a reliable source of diverse and entry-level talent within their organisation.

Sustainability has always been a central part in every area of Google’s operations, and we are constantly growing our sustainability ecosystem. During our most recent and first-ever Sustainability Summit, we introduced two new programmes under the Google Cloud Partners initiative to make it simpler for partners to find the necessary tools and expertise to support their sustainability goals.

As part of our Partner Advantage Programme, we have launched Google Cloud Ready for Sustainability. This new initiative is designed for partners with business-ready solutions available on Google Cloud, which aims to help customers meet their sustainability targets. The programme will enable partners to deliver solutions that reduce carbon emissions, increase the sustainability of value chains, help businesses process ESG data and build resilience to climate risks.

Many of our partners, such as Carto, Climate Engine, NGIS and GEOTAB, who are experts in addressing ESG challenges, have already achieved their Google Cloud Ready – Sustainability designation.

In due time, we will also be launching the Google Cloud Marketplace Sustainability Hub, which will provide customers with easy access to our sustainability tools and solutions. The hub will showcase Google Cloud Ready as part of one of our key sustainability solutions.   

How important is the channel to Google Cloud? Given that it has come from a different place to those hardware vendors that use distribution and resellers, does the company need the channel and does senior management outside of the channel team ‘get it’ when it comes to partners?

Aldous: One of the greatest differentiators for Google Cloud is that we are a partner-first company. Our channel ecosystem plays a critical role in our UK growth strategy and our key goal is to attach partners to 100% of customer engagements. Our clear partner message has been established across the business from the likes of our CEO, Thomas Kurian, to senior management on the board and all employees across the organisation. 

The implications of the pandemic have speeded up digital transformation across the tech sector, which has provided our partners with an opportunity to excel by playing a crucial role to support customers adopt our technologies and solutions efficiently. Our enterprise customers rely heavily on the SIs and the MSPs to help them – including consultation, deployment or management of their public cloud deployment. This is especially clear when you look at cloud and, in fact, multicloud adoption in the past year alone.

In response to this, we are expanding our partner ecosystem more than ever, especially in the areas that our partners need the most. For example, we are deeply investing, jointly with our partners, in sectors such as cloud migration, hybrid and multicloud solutions and services in verticals, which is a big strategy for us.

Channel partners are consistently turning to, and investing in, Google Cloud because of our immense dedication to putting partners first. We acknowledge that we are not and won’t be leading experts in every area of every industry – but this is where the value of our partner ecosystem lies.

We are continuing to honour and champion our partners’ widened expertise and knowledge and collaborate with them to bring together outstanding solutions and services across industries for our customers. 

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