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Google Gives Raise To Top Partner Companies

By revising its partner program, Google hopes to better accommodate the needs of business customers.
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To better serve its growing community of business customers, Google announced changes in its global partner program on Thursday, including higher commissions for its leading partners.

Murali Sitaram, director of global partnerships and strategic alliances for Google for Work, said in a phone interview that changes are necessary because businesses are moving to the cloud at a faster rate than in the past, and Google isn't equipped to provide its corporate customers with the necessary level of service.

"We're not a professional services company," said Sitaram. "To deploy cloud technologies in businesses requires experience and skills we don't have."

To provide business customers with the hand holding necessary to deploy cloud computing services, Google has come to rely on a group of more than 10,000 partner organizations. "The partner community is critical to us," said Sitaram. "It's less about the quantity than the quality. We want to make sure there's deep technical expertise with these partners, today and as our platforms evolve."

[Time to rethink your technology investments. See Apple And Google At Work: The Enterprise Challenge.]

Google is overhauling its partner program in order to simplify it, Sitaram said. The shift brings a range of different programs, like the Google Cloud Platform Partner Program and the Google Apps Tech Partner Program, under a more unified global structure. Google took smaller steps in this direction earlier in the year.

The revised program will be called the Google for Work and Education Partner Program and will cover Apps, Chrome, Cloud Platform, Maps, and Search, a broader set of software and services than before. Through three tracks -- Sales, Services, and Technology -- it is designed to meet the needs of Google's diverse set of small and midsized business, enterprise, and education customers around the globe.

The Sales track is designed to accommodate the way Google's partners deal in both software and hardware, which can require different relationships with customers. The Services track is designed for partners that deploy and manage Google products for customers and then maintain relationships with those customers. And the Technology track serves Google partners that extend the company's platforms or create apps for those platforms, enabling them to sell through Sales or Service track partners.

Similar to the company's previous partner programs, the Google for Work and Education Partner Program will provide partners with a 20% share of the revenue generated by customers' use of Google products. So selling a single Google Apps For Work seat with unlimited storage and Vault, at a cost of $120 annually, would be worth $24 to the partner each year.

To retain its best allies, Google has created a Premier partner tier for its most committed partners. Premier partners will earn a 30% share of revenue. They will receive extra benefits, including designated partner manager support, co-marketing opportunities with Google, marketing and financial incentives, exclusive training and events, and the use of a Premier Partner badge.

Google has updated its partner program requirements, and it plans to begin accepting applications for the new program in early 2015.

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