Cloud channel wars - Assessing the Aussie impact of Alibaba and Google

Cloud channel wars - Assessing the Aussie impact of Alibaba and Google

What happens when two of the most cashed-up tech companies on the planet unleash their cloud businesses on the local channel?

Alibaba Cloud general manager of global business, Ethan Yu, went further, indicating that middle-sized and small-sized channel players will be the company’s preferred partners locally, while stressing that larger partners would not be neglected either.

“We are looking for channel partners that do not only have customer reach, but those who offer innovative solutions on top of Alibaba Cloud,” Yu said late last year.

While the company claims to be looking to engage the smaller end of the channel, as of November last year, it had only named Accenture among its signed Australian channel partners.

But the local market can expect to see many more partners come on board as the company shifts its channel ambitions in the local market into the next gear.

“We will have massive training facilities in Australia to train our end customers and channel partners and will have a certification program, just like AWS does,” Yu said in November.

Going Google Cloud

While Alibaba Cloud is taking its time to build up a channel presence despite having already launched in Australia, GCP has already spent quite a while making a splash among local partners, even though it only officially launched in Australia a month ago.

The company revealed plans in September last year to establish eight new Google Cloud Regions around the world, including Australia, with Sydney now accommodating three new availability zones.

To facilitate the move locally, Google has started the process of hiring top brass for its cloud business in Australia and New Zealand in early March.

Yet GCP has been used by Australian businesses for years. As of September last year, Google claimed its Cloud Platform served more than one billion end users. The contrast between Alibaba’s tentative foray into the local cloud market and GCP’s big, bold push into A/NZ can be attributed to each of the vendor’s existing cloud businesses.

And Google’s cloud business is farther ahead in terms of size and maturity. The company already has plenty of partners in the local channel, most of which have been simply provisioning existing Google Cloud services from the vendor’s international data centre footprint.

At the same time, the launch of GCP in Australia looks set to make a big difference for partners around what they will be able to offer customers.

One of the Australian channel players that is likely to see a surge of GCP adoption among its customers is Melbourne-based software consultancy, Shine Solutions Group, which partners with Google as well as market leader, AWS, in the cloud.

Shine Solutions specialises in bespoke enterprise-based software, with a customer tally that includes big names in the Australian market, such as ANZ, Coles, Telstra and National Australia Bank.

The company has been a Google partner for the better part of the past five years and, according to Shine Solutions Director, Luke Alexander, it is investing heavily in Google.

“Now a vendor of Google’s calibre has entered the market and is on the ground locally, we expect to see a spike in adoption,” Alexander said. “Most organisations have strict data policies when it comes to cloud so the introduction of the GCP will help open up new conversations.”

It remains to be seen what level of enterprise cut through GCP will get in the local market, given its existing consumer connotations. Yet the growing prevalence of offerings such as G Suite among businesses, combined with the company’s existing brand equity is likely to help it along.

But not everyone is convinced.

“Amazon was a trailblazer in retail and that certainly helped to open doors for AWS, and we expect the same with Google,” he said. “But there’s still scepticism when it comes to mixing an established consumer brand with an enterprise player.

“Google is doing a good job of explaining the key differences and are leveraging their security model to help drive adoption in the cloud.”

Regardless of the question over Google’s consumer reputation, some of the capabilities the company has built into its cloud offering are likely to represent a compelling alternative for local partners wanting to bring something new to their clients.

“It’s still early days in the cloud and early days for Google, but the machine learning play is a huge advantage,” Alexander said. “They have a competitive edge over other players in the market and we’re seeing AWS and Microsoft Azure respond to try and bridge that gap.”

Ultimately, Alexander believes the decision to sign up as a partner early has set the company up to be on the front foot now the tech giant has finally launched Google Cloud Platform in the local market.

“As a small organisation based in Melbourne with 80 staff, we’ve benefited enormously from joining the Google ecosystem early,” he said.

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Tags CloudGooglealibabaGoogle Cloud PlatformAlibaba Cloud

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