For those in the channel that drank countless bottles of Kool-Aid at AWS Summit in Sydney earlier this year - and for those planning on chugging a different variety at Microsoft Summit in November - Verma advised caution.
“They believe they can do everything in the public cloud but clearly that is not true and Google has entered the market with a very fresh approach,” he explained.”
To Microsoft’s credit however, the recent launch of Azure Stack represents the vendor’s largest acknowledgment that hybrid cloud is here to stay, while AWS’ recent market alliances point to an acceptance that perhaps, public cloud isn’t always the answer.
Despite clear market advantages for both providers - providers that continue to dominate the market in every sense - challenges do remain.
With AWS’ commitment to the channel sketchy at best, partners remain critical of a vendor strategy which considers direct customer relationships of greater importance to that of an ecosystem of advisors and providers.
On the flip side, Microsoft stands tall as one of the true champions of the channel, as emphasised through the new One Commercial Partner reorganisation.
But with an ecosystem of over 10,000 partners across Australia alone, standing out from the crowd is a tough act for providers aligned to Azure, despite the vendor’s insistence on increased specialisation.
“Azure has not played a big role in our network,” Verma said. “If I could put my finger on why, I’d say it’s because you have to be within the Microsoft ecosystem to do well in Azure.
“But we don’t want to build our business around Microsoft because we don’t want to be tagged by any vendor. We don’t want to be known as a Microsoft shop because we would become partner number 10,001 in Australia.”
Specific to Google, conversing with the channel doesn’t come natural to an organisation famed for search engines rather than reseller rebates.
Unsurprisingly, it’ll take time for the 18-year-old multinational to learn the ropes and hit the ground running, such is the complex nature of the channel.
“Google are just building a channel and it’s very early days,” Gartner Research vice president of infrastructure software Michael Warrilow told ARN on the ground at Google Cloud Next ’17 conference in March.
Verma remains a realist however, acknowledging that Google Cloud’s entrance into Australia does not guarantee ground-breaking results overnight.
Yet the groundwork has been laid, the foundations are in place and a long-haul challenge for cloud leadership in the channel is now underway.
“We believe we have a specific role to play within the Google Cloud ecosystem,” Verma added. “They have a wide spectrum of services but we want to be known as infrastructure and automation specialists.
“The biggest challenge for any customer is around understanding the offerings of any cloud platform, and our role is to provide offerings capable of solving a business problem. We provide the best of the platforms in the market through our vendor agnostic view of the world.”
But there is one rather large elephant in the Google Cloud room - enterprise acceptance.
Because despite standing tall as one of the world’s most instantly recognisable logos, and a brand that has now become a verb, such a reputation counts for nothing in the boardrooms of Australia.
“They are trying to woo the partner community while trying to prove their credentials within the enterprise,” Warrilow told ARN. “They are doing a good job on both fronts and it’s a huge improvement from over a year ago.”
Built by over 500 engineers, Google Cloud is now reaching customers across financial services, health, retail, media, energy and manufacturing, representing opportunities for specialist partners in the channel.
With SAP offering a much needed enterprise seal of approval, key customers now include HSBC, Verizon, Home Depot, eBay, Disney and Colgate-Palmolive among many.
“But there’s a long way to go,” Warrilow cautioned. “Google’s success to date has largely been non-enterprise, through software-as-a-service [SaaS] vendors and individual developers. Now they have to win the hearts and minds of the channel and the corporate executives.”
Hence Oreta, a partner Verma believes is capable of cutting through the market hype to provide a clear path to the heart of the boardroom.
“I still don’t think customers realise or consider Google as an infrastructure partner at this stage, they have always seen the brand as a consumer, search or gadget company,” Verma acknowledged. “The enterprise presence hasn’t been there in terms of exposure so that’s naturally a challenge, but we’re here to back them up.
“The branding is so strong that nobody would refuse you a first stab at it but it’s about delivering an outcome and consistently delivering that outcome, which in my opinion is the essence of cloud computing.”