When Cloud Sherpas released its SherpaTools platform to beta last month, it became the latest product from a growing line of companies looking to not only resell Google Apps but grease the wheels for companies trying to implement the Web-based collaboration software.
Cloud Sherpas resells Google Apps Premier Edition (GAPE), which Google offers for $50 per user per year to companies that need to migrate hundreds or thousands of employees from IBM Lotus Notes or Microsoft Exchange to GAPE.
This means Cloud Sherpas, made up of former Lotus and Exchange experts who saw Google as the future of cloud-based collaboration, must play the part of reseller, systems integrator and application developer, Cloud Sherpas CEO Mike Cohn told eWEEK.
"One half of our business is providing our customers expert advice on what they need to do when they move to the cloud," Cohn said. "Second, with all of the deep enterprise engagements we're involved in, we saw a lot of opportunities to fill gaps with software. In the new world of the cloud, it's pretty obvious to us there is no need for a distributor. The distributor, systems integrator and reseller come together."
SherpaTools, which is currently free, comprises software modules that make GAPE easier for administrators and end users. The suite includes a Directory Manager, which provides a simple interface for adding essential User Profile and Shared Contacts information, and DirectoryBot, an automated Google Talk IM for end users.
Cohn said SherpaTools will eventually include a compliance and reporting module as well as a data backup and restore tool.
Cloud Sherpas helped Lincoln Property migrate to Google Apps from Novell GroupWise mail and contacts data for 950 users. The company also implemented SherpaTools, to offer additional IT management functions for admins and new features for employees.
Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler said the idea of the be-all-you-can-be reseller is a very important topic.
"In a cloud world, ISVs, integrators and VARs, etc., have to do more than install boxes and software," Schadler told eWEEK. "They have to augment and extend. The entire channel has to up its game with applications and do things that customers will pay for. If you look at the MSFT Business Productivity Online Suite [BPOS], it's transferring wealth to customers and to Microsoft and away from Exchange reseller."