Google Cloud ‘Secret Sauce’ Has Partners ‘Flocking To Us’: Channel Chief

Google Cloud’s global channel leader Kevin Ichhpurani takes a deep dive with CRN about the cloud giant’s “transformation cloud” strategy, spearheaded by partners, to win more cloud market share.

Google Cloud is dead set on winning more channel mindshare and driving cloud sales through its “secret sauce” approach to partnering that is transforming customers, says global channel chief Kevin Ichhpurani.

“This is the ticket to becoming a higher value provider. This is the ticket to earning high margin services,” said Ichhpurani (pictured), corporate vice president of Global Ecosystem and Channels at Google Cloud, in an interview with CRN. “Because when you’re driving this kind of impact, the dollar amounts you charge for your services and the margins are much higher.”

The roughly $24 billion cloud giant has created networks of partners it dubs “industry value networks,” bringing together all types of technology and software companies alongside channel partners of all shapes and sizes

Working all together, they deliver what Ichhpurani calls “transformation cloud,” which aims to solve customers’ largest pain points while also transforming their business.

“The secret sauce is we are the transformation cloud for the industry,” Ichhpurani said. “And that is why partners are flocking to us right now.”

Ichhpurani: This Is ‘Where The Puck Is Going’

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Cloud generated nearly $6.3 billion in revenue for its second quarter 2022, representing year-over-year growth of 36 percent.

In its first quarter, the company generated $5.82 billion in total sales, up 44 percent year over year.

Ichhpurani attributes Google Cloud sales momentum to the company’s innovation and ecosystem of Google partners helping customers transform their business, such as by better leveraging data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI).

“If you look at what customers are doing today, they’re using analytics and AI to change their business process or invent a new business model,” said Ichhpurani.

“They’re not just moving VMs to the cloud, but they’re modernizing those applications to support a new business process,” he said. “Data and AI and app modernization are where the puck is going—and it’s the sweet spots of Google Cloud.”

In an interview with CRN, Ichhpurani takes a deep dive into Google Cloud’s unique channel strategy and market vision to win cloud market share via partners, as well as opportunities ahead with Mandiant.

Why are partners picking Google Cloud over the competition? What’s your winning strategy?

The secret sauce is we are the transformation cloud for the industry. And that is why partners are flocking to us right now.

Because we’re helping fundamentally improve their business process or rethink their business model. We have eight businesses of our own that have over a billion users at Google. We are taking the same platform and extending it to customers.

It starts with a data driven reinvention and approach.

I’ll give you an example what we’re doing here. We’re not just talking about moving your compute over—that’s table stakes. Of course we’re doing that.

But we’re starting with, for example, how do we help Ford optimize their supply chain? How do we help them with product lifecycle management? How do we help them do object defect detection using AI on the shop floor, so you can avoid recalls? We are helping them change the interaction with their customers.

We do this by using our data and AI to do better personalization and better targeting for extended warranties for approaching customers for new trade and promotions. We are helping deliver a completely new in-car experience using our broader Google to deliver things like Android Auto, Google Play and Google Maps in the vehicle.

This is a highly transformational play that we’re doing with Ford. And we’re doing it together with partners like Accenture, HCL and Quantiphi.

How is your transformation cloud strategy helping and evolving channel opportunities?

This is changing the perception of partners.

If you look at HCL, they invested in us in 2019. They have a 70 percent CAGR [compound annual growth rate] within their business on Google Cloud.

What’s fascinating is Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for cloud service providers. They are in the upper right-hand quadrant [a leader and innovator] on the Magic Quadrant. If you were to look three years ago, they were in the lower left [niche player].

It’s fascinating to read the report because you see how much it’s attributed to their transformation capability. HCL will tell you that the reason that they got to where we are from the lower left to upper right, is because of its investment in Google Cloud and the transformation cloud and what it’s allowed [HCL] to do and how it’s helping them access customers that they couldn’t access before.

When you’re having this discussion with a client, you’re talking about transforming their business with Google.

You’re not saying, ‘I’m just moving your Outlook and Exchange servers to the cloud.’ When you’re having this transformation discussion, you are elevated.

This is the ticket to becoming a higher value provider. This is the ticket to earning high margin services.

Because when you’re driving this kind of impact, the dollar amounts you charge for your services and the margins are much higher. That’s the opportunity for partners and why this is so exciting.

How has Google Cloud created this transformation cloud and what’s the strategy?

We’ve built a value chain network, which we call the Cortex Industry Value Network.

This is where we’ve brought together software companies, ISVs [independent software vendors], technology companies, we’ve brought together services partners, and content partners.

Because if you think about things like suppliers, as an example, there’s a lot of external data outside your firewall you need to bring in. So content partners are an important part of the team. Together, we solve this problem.

We’re already delivering this for companies like Cargo Tech and Mercado Libre, etcetera.

This is about starting with the customer pain point that we need to solve, and what is the network of partners who need to come together.

We’re literally walking in the door with multiple partners, as opposed to the days of the past where you had monolithic one-to-one relationships.

This is where we see where the puck is going. We’re doing this in every industry.

Can you double click on where the cloud puck is going?

Two years ago, a lot of customers were just moving VMs to the cloud to lower their costs. There’s plenty of that that still exists.

But more and more customers are leveraging data and analytics and AI to actually rethink a business process or rethink their business model entirely. That is where the puck is going in the cloud and that is how customers are spending.

If you look at what customers are doing today, they’re using analytics and AI to change their business process or invent a new business model.

They’re not just moving VMs to the cloud, but they’re modernizing those applications to support a new business process.

Data and AI and app modernization are where the puck is going—and it’s the sweet spots of Google Cloud. So we’re quite excited about that.

How is this Google Cloud’s ‘sweet spot’?

We have a $250 billion business of organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible.

We’re taking that platform and delivering it to customers so they can personalize offerings to their own customers.

We have eight businesses with over a billion users. So we’re helping customers do the same, digitally transform their business.

Why is data exploding? Because it’s so cheap to store stuff now. So people are saving everything. Now you can actually apply our technology at cloud scale and find a needle in a haystack using analytics and AI. That’s the big play.

How does this partner approach differ from other cloud providers?

Our approach to partnering. We believe it’s fundamentally different.

We believe that the lines are blurring of what partner types are. So the days of just saying, ‘Well, I’m working with monolithic partnerships. I’m doing this with this partner, and this with another partner’ are over. We believe an effective network ecosystem is what’s going to solve customer problems.

So we start with every industry to understand what are the significant pain points in the industry? What are the biggest problems that need to be solved? What’s the TAM [total addressable market] for that problem? What are we building? Where are there gaps or white spaces where we don’t plan to go?

We’re proactively sharing those white spaces with the partner community so they know where they can build and know we’re not going to be entering their spaces, it’s not on our roadmap.

We’re building a network to solve that problem versus just one-to-one monolithic partnerships in the past.

Why is that so important? Because it takes a village to deliver and solve a customer problem.

Give me a good example.

When data is sitting in silos, you need to bring together a complete ecosystem to solve this problem for customers.

Data is sitting in point-of-sale systems when you go into the retail store. Data is sitting in CRM systems like Salesforce. Data is sitting in supply chain systems like SAP.

You need to solve that problem by bringing in, not only multiple software partners, but you actually have to bring in strategic advisory firms and consulting firms that can not only deploy and stitch this offering together that we’ve built—but also to do all the organizational change management, business process and reengineering.

What are the big partner opportunities around Mandiant?

Mandiant has the best capability in the world for incident response. So, for example, there’s been a breach— Mandiant gets a call to immediately stabilize the situation.

From there, there’s a whole different set of services and technology opportunities that happen afterwards.

Mandiant has a threat detection repository which we’re going to deliver more and more technology offerings from that because it’s fundamentally a platform to customers.

But what customers then want is, ‘Can you help me with looking at my security posture? What do I need to do operationally better?’ We see that as a huge opportunity for Mandiant to work with partners to deliver those services.

We also see that the customer then says, ‘Well, what technologies do I need? Do I need a better technology for endpoint security?’ That’s a big opportunity for our technology partners.

Then together with partners, there’ll be a big opportunity for partners to help augment us to do things like security assessments for customers looking at their operational postures.

Also what leave-behind technologies are necessary. For example, you may need to really upgrade your endpoint security. If you’re an endpoint security partner of ours, that’s a great opportunity now for Google to bring you business.

The last thing is that there’s a set of customers that wants to completely outsource their entire security operations center. Like their entire SOC. They want to outsource their security. So that’s a big opportunity for partners to work with us as well.

We think this is going to be a huge lead-generation opportunity for the partner community.

Provide some stats around Google Cloud partner momentum and growth right now.

If you look at our growth right now, we’ve tripled our go-to-market-team. We’ve made very significant growth over the last few years in our go-to-market organization and our quota carrying sales organization.

We have 90,000 companies within our Partner Advantage program.

If you look at our global systems integrators, we’ve had three-and-a-half-times growth in the number of certified consultants over a two-year period.

If you look at our co-sell program with ISVs, we grew—first half [2021] to first half [2022] comparison—130 percent. And six-times growth in our market in the number of million-dollar deals that are closing through our Google Marketplace.

We’re seeing very explosive growth in the Marketplace because customers can buy partner solutions and decrement their [spending] commitments with Google dollar-for-dollar, just like it’s a Google product. That’s pretty unique in the industry.

Across all partner types, we’re getting many of the largest companies in the world adopting Google Cloud.

ISV companies like SAP are moving a number of their cloud assets to Google Cloud, so is Salesforce, Workday, Anaplan, etc.

If you are looking at systems integrators, five of the top global systems integrators now have dedicated Google Cloud business units with billion-dollar plus plans.

So we have very strong traction across all partner types.