Google Cloud To ‘Attach Partners To 100 Percent’ Of Customer Engagements

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian tells CRN about his channel goal to attach 100 percent of customer engagements to a partner, while also touting ‘zero channel conflict’ in the sales field.


CEO Thomas Kurian is looking to take Google Cloud’s channel strategy to the next level by attaching channel partners to every single customer engagement as the public cloud giant is growing sales by co-selling with its army of tens-of-thousands of partners.

As customer spending through channel partners continues to explode at a triple-digit rate for Google Cloud, Kurian says Google has effectively “eliminated channel conflict.”

“When I joined, I was very clear that we are a products and solutions company, we’re not a services company. So there is zero channel conflict,” said Kurian in an interview with Channel Company Founding Partner Robert Faletra and CRN Executive Editor, News, Steven Burke at The Channel Company’s Best of Breed Virtual 2022 conference Tuesday. “So it makes it much easier for a partner to know that when you go in with Google, they’re not going to try and bring their own services and compete with them.”

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Kurian’s goal is to “attach partners to 100 percent” of every customer engagement regardless of whether the partner plays a role in discovering the client, driving the deal or closing the customer win.

“Our goal—whether it’s in data, infrastructure, collaboration tools, etc.—our goal is to get to 100 percent attached with every client with a partner,” said Kurian. “The nature of cloud is it’s a platform business. And in a platform business, you want to enable the partner ecosystem to deliver solutions to work with clients, to bring them to our cloud. Our difference is that we’re very committed to the partner ecosystem. We’re giving them not only great and differentiated technology, but also facilitating them in terms of aiding and building solutions and sharing the growth that we have with them.”

[Related: Google Cloud’s ‘Strong’ Q1 Growth And Sundar Pichai’s Vision: 5 Big Takeaways]

For example, customers spending through channel partners and the Google Cloud Platform “more than doubled” from 2020 to 2021, according to Kurian.

The number of customers spending over $1 million per year in the Google Cloud Marketplace, which is where the company provides easy access and visibility to channel partners services and solutions, increased by 600 percent from 2020 to 2021.

‘Almost Never In A Pursuit Or Engagement Alone’

SADA Systems is a Google Cloud Premier Partner and one of Google Cloud’s top national channel partners who is constantly getting invited by Google Cloud to work with some of their largest customer accounts.

“We are almost never in a pursuit or engagement alone. We are always co-selling with Google,” said Tony Safoian, CEO of Los Angeles-based SADA, who made CRN’s 2022 Elite 150 MSP list.

“It’s extremely collaborative in almost every engagement. It’s not just day one in that pursuit, but year-one, year-two, the renewal, the new commit, the expansion—whatever it is, we’re at the hip with Google in the field every single day,” said Safoian. “We’re bringing the best of our capabilities and our points of view, and marrying that up with what Google brings to the table—partner resources, programs, incentives—to make sure that customers are getting the best of both worlds.”

Google Cloud has reached out to SADA to work together on massive and complex accounts with Fortune 50 customers thanks to SADA’s specialized set of cloud capabilities in areas such as Google Anthos, big data and analytics, and Google Workspace.

“So even for customers that we didn’t win, we were not part of the sales pursuit, we are brought in to work hand-in-hand with Google to help deliver on the promise of what they just acquired, or in some cases, in the work leading up to the decision of going with Google Cloud,” said Safoian. “I can’t share all the customer names, but just the biggest companies you can think of, we’re engaged in a ton of them with Google. So [Kurian’s channel strategy] is very valid.”

Thomas Kurian: Google Cloud Changes Sales Org To Help Channel Partners

There are currently “well north of tens-of-thousands” of Google Cloud channel partners across the globe, Kurian said, with room to invite everyone to the customer table as sales skyrocket.

Google Cloud revenue soared 44 percent year over year to $5.82 billion during its first quarter of 2022. The public cloud unit now accounts for 8.6 percent of its parent company Alphabet’s total revenue, up from 7.3 percent just one year ago.

The market is showing “unprecedented” demand for Google Cloud and its partners to provide cloud infrastructure and a wide variety of services for customers of all sizes, Kurian said, including around workload migration, cybersecurity, and big data and analytics.

“There’s a huge opportunity for partners. Our goal is to make sure that we make it super easy for partners to be able to reach our customers. Second, we made it very easy for partners to collaborate with the Google salesforce so that they can serve clients together,” said Kurian. “There’s a lot of things we’ve done with our sales organization to make sure that partners are seen as really complementary to us.”

SADA is betting so heavily on Kurian’s channel-focused cloud strategy that his company recently signed a new partnership agreement with the cloud provider with the goal of driving customers to $2.5 billion worth of Google Cloud consumption over the next three years.

“We’re happy Kurian is being so explicit with his partner plans,” said SADA CEO Safoian. “It further validates why we already have 720 people working full-time on behalf of this ecosystem. … We’re trying to rise to the challenge and to be there for our customers and for Google as they become even more explicit in the partner strategy. I only see great things ahead for both of us.”