On Thursday, Google announced additions to its programs for Google Apps and Google Cloud Platform partners. The expansions are intended to broaden the company's ecosystem of products and services for businesses.
The cloud-based platform previously had two levels of partners -- service partners and technology partners -- that provide a range of services for users of the platform, including technical support and customized application development. The company says there are currently 161 organizational members in the partner program, which was introduced in mid-2012.
Now Google is expanding the program into three tiers of partners -- Premier, Authorized and Registered.
'Formal Technology Track'
Registered Partner is the entry level, with access to online resources and training. Authorized gets the core partner program with branding, relationship management and access to online resources and training, while Premier has the benefits of the core program and access to premier-level services.
Over in its Google Apps Partner Program site, the company announced Thursday a "formal technology track" for software vendors to build complementary business apps and tools. Technology partners will be offered technical, marketing and sales support. The company said the new track is intended to accompany the existing reseller program, which currently has more than 10,000 partners.
Resellers offer apps to customers, and the new technology track, which will offer similar kinds of benefits, is designed to support companies that build products integrated with Google Apps.
Initially, the technology track will start with a limited number of partners, and it will expand to all software vendors by next quarter. Partners can receive prime placement in the Apps Marketplace, partner community newsletters, webinars, partner-specific content and training materials.
'More Relevant to Enterprise'
Google pointed to such integrated apps as UberConference, whose conference calls work with Hangouts, and Smartsheet, with a project management app integrated into Google Drive. The Apps Marketplace currently has more than 750 apps. A report from Frost & Sullivan in February said that one-third of Google Apps administrators in organizations found that third-party apps were important to some degree in their adoption of Google Apps.
Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, pointed out to us that unlike Google, Microsoft, a key competitor in online productivity tools, "doesn't encourage a customization of their apps."
King said the broader strategy by Google is "making itself more relevant to the enterprise, especially since there is a huge potential for apps designed for specific purposes and regional markets." The expansion of the Cloud Platform is intended to enlarge the ecosystem of companies to strengthen Google's hand in competition with Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.
According to Google, over five million businesses currently use its products and services, a massive increase from about 2,000 in 2005.
The expansions of the two programs were announced at the company's annual Global Partner Summit in San Francisco, now in its second year.