How A/NZ partners can help Google win the cloud war

How A/NZ partners can help Google win the cloud war

Tech giant outlines blueprint for partner success as channel plans become reality on both sides of the Tasman

Ash Willis - Head of cloud partners and alliances JAPAC, Google Cloud

Ash Willis - Head of cloud partners and alliances JAPAC, Google Cloud

As of September 2016, Taiwan represented the only Google Cloud region across Asia Pacific. Yet following a surge of investment, Sydney, Singapore and Tokyo locations have since been launched, with Mumbai following soon.

“That’s a tremendous amount of momentum which in turn has helped create new demand across these markets,” Harshman added. “We’re meeting demand and continuing to create demand.”

Relative to the channel, the local launch allows local partners to now offer businesses the ability to store their data within Australia – a factor that likely held back a number of potential enterprise and government end customers from adopting Google’s cloud services.

“Depending on the workload, having a local region is important,” Harshman added. “But also, a desire to be able to move quickly, to scale and to utilise data and analytics are also crucial factors.”

Despite the promise of cloud however, coupled with everything the platform entails, Harshman said only five per cent of all workloads globally currently reside in the skies.

“That means 95 per cent of the opportunity still resides in the data centre, which creates a tremendous opportunity not only for Google Cloud but for our ecosystem of partners,” he added. “But what will be important is how we work together to be able to provide the transformation that organisations are looking for.”

In drawing on customer feedback, Harshman said businesses today demand flexible and open cloud platforms, platforms that prevent lock-in and promote innovation.

“It’s about being a true open cloud and supporting open source because most enterprises want to know how we can support hybrid and multi-cloud environments,” Harshman added. “There’s not one enterprise customer that will work with one end provider, they want to know how they can work across multiple providers.”

And for Google, and its expanding cloud platform and channel, enterprise is key.

During the past 12 months, the tech giant has staked its claim as a serious cloud contender across the enterprise, backed up by an expansive list of heavy hitting customers migrating to the skies.

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.

Local customers include Service NSW, News Corp Australia, Fairfax Media and Woolworths, alongside global logos such as HSBC, Adidas, and Spotify.

“We’re here to play,” Harshman said. “We have a huge focus on hiring and as part of that hiring, it’s helping to further drive our focus on the enterprise.”

Central to this has been the recent appointment of Colin Timm as the new director of Google Cloud across A/NZ, tasked with driving enterprise cloud adoption on both sides of the Tasman.

Effective 18 September, Timm - who replaces Renee Gamble in the role - joins the tech giant from Telstra, where he most recently served as executive director across the enterprise business, working with 1,000 of the telco’s largest customers across Australia.

“Colin brings a wealth of experience serving enterprise customers both in Australia and internationally,” Harshman added. “We are delighted to have him to lead the team as more and more Australian businesses come on board with Google Cloud Platform [GCP].”

As reported by ARN, Timm also managed operations and services for Telstra’s enterprise and government business, alongside stints at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft.

Inside a Google data centre
Inside a Google data centre

Furthermore, technology partnerships will also be pivotal for Google in the years ahead, as illustrated through SAP now running its flagship products on GCP.

Designed to develop and integrate Google cloud and machine learning solutions with SAP enterprise applications, the agreement allows customers to run mission-critical SAP applications and databases, such as SAP HANA, on GCP.

With over 125 million subscribers on the SAP cloud user base, the SAP HANA platform houses over 5,200 start-up developers, alongside more than 560 partners globally.

“Having SAP as an established alliance partner is more important than just a rubber stamp,” Harshman explained. “With SAP, we’ve gone through a rigorous certification meaning SAP Hana can now run on Google Cloud.

“This is something that we didn’t have before - it’s significant and boosts our enterprise play. Also, our operating professional services team represents another key component to that strategy.”

Professional services

Key to capitalising on new and existing opportunities across the enterprise will be Google’s ability to provide professional services alongside the channel, in a bid to extract new levels of value through the cloud.

Specific to Google Cloud, the vendor’s core offerings span consulting, technical account management, training and certification, alongside advanced solution expertise.

“We realised there wasn’t a lot of best practice available in terms of how to carry out a lift and shift, or how to deploy a BigQuery implementation,” Google head of professional services across Asia Pacific and Japan Glenn Dreves told ARN.

“Our focus is based on building repeatable service offerings and as they mature, rolling them out to the partners. We work with partners to ensure they are comfortable with the repeatability of those offerings and then we move on.

“During this process we have partners working with us side-by-side, and they add complementary skills to provide value to the customer.”

According to Dreves, the offerings can be rolled out to large or small-sized partners, delivering a scale up or scale down capability for the channel as a result.

“We can also subcontract both ways,” he added. “When we’re working with large partners we might inject some expert services to help them come up with a plan.

“But also when we’re working with other customers, we might want to utilise a boutique partner to come in and focus on machine learning or data analytics for example. We’re working with a broad spectrum of partners and specialisation is a big part of that.”

Despite a need to provide professional services as a point of difference in the cloud, Dreves acknowledged the fine line between adding partner value and competing for end-user mindshare and dollars.

“We’re a very partner focused professional services organisation,” Dreves explained. “We’re focused on building IP and sharing that with our partners, and our goal is not to be engaged long-term.”

From a partner perspective, Willis said internal practices are in place to ensure the service remains complementary rather than competitive to the channel.

“We’ve not seen any conflict,” Willis added. “We spend a huge amount of time ensuring that we’re not even getting ourselves into situations that could be perceived as conflict.

“I’ve been very encouraged by how well our partner ecosystem have warmed to this additional technical capability that we’re building to help them be more successful.”

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