Google Jan. 14 launched a reseller program to let technology providers sell and support its Google Apps Premier Edition suite of collaboration applications to other businesses, a sign that the cloud computing ecosystem is maturing in the enterprise.
The GAPE reseller program has actually been live for several quarters for 50 pilot partners, including IT company SADA Systems and technology solutions provider Revevol. But with more than 1 million businesses using Google applications, the search and SAAS (software as a service) vendor decided it was time to roll out the program for the business world at large.
For $50 per user, per year, GAPE includes Google Docs word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications, Gmail, the Google Sites wiki, and Google Video for businesses applications. Google hosts these applications on its servers to save customers the costs and time associated with purchasing, configuring and maintaining hardware and software infrastructure.
Hundreds of thousands of businesses use GAPE as a complement or outright alternative to productivity software from Microsoft and IBM, which resides on users' computers or company servers. The reseller program is an attempt to help Google extend its purview in SAAS, where Salesforce.com and thousands of nascent companies are looking to find their niche.
Stephen Cho, director of Google Apps Channels, told eWEEK that Google plans to serve resellers of any size, from small IT shops to the largest global systems integrators, offering U.S. resellers a 20 percent discount on GAPE.
This means resellers will have to pay Google $40 for every user they serve, but because resellers can set their own terms and bill customers directly, they can charge what they want above the $40 to make money.
Similar discounts will be offered to resellers in other geographies. Cho, who said Google looked at external vendors as well as its own Postini security applications reseller program as a model for the new program, explained:
"We just simply reached a point where we felt the product was sufficiently ready, the customer demand was officially there and we continued to hear more and more from partners who were working with us from the services side that they were ready to ramp up and engage with us."
With training and support from Google, resellers will do their own marketing and product promotion, set their customers up and get them running on Google Apps.
Resellers may also bundle additional services and support with Google Apps, including user education and training and synchronization tools for e-mail and data migration, desktop and mobile clients, and interoperability.
To help with this, Google has created a portal for resellers that hosts business and technical information and online discussion groups. There are reseller tools for setting up business customers and provisioning and managing end users, as well as REST-based APIs to help resellers integrate with their intended customers.