Aside

Google SMB Push…

Having launched what now seems like a bazzillion products, I think I can draw a conclusion about the simplicity of enterprise product adoption. Here goes. There are only 3 things enterprise companies need to adopt technology: security, scalability and support. Oh, and the product has to solve a problem that needs solving. Okay, so 4 things. But what I mean is product + these three outside factors.
And I think Google may be trying for this trifecta solution.
Google has been making forays into the SMB market of course, trying to take the low end of the enterprise space as they attack Microsoft on the underbelly. SMBs, a largely unpenetrated market, has been a “holy grail” for many enterprise technology firms: greatly desired, often sought after but not obtainable. and you’ve heard me talk / blog about how the Web has placed the ever-elusive SMB market within the grasp of software companies. This wee thing called the web allows firms to leap over former barriers included poor distribution vehicles, and the large advertising investment required to build brand awareness, and an inability to affordably target SMB segments. So it makes p-e-r-f-e-c-t sense that Google, the one who practically created the ability to do broad reach go to the SMB market and serve them with online apps, etc.
With the recent acquisition of Postini (for $625M for its 35K customer base) they got two things. Security surely, and a “scalable architecture” based on the press release. I have no idea what that means but I’ll buy it for now.
So that gives Google, on the face of it at least, 2 of the 3 things enterprises need: security, scalability and support.
And then, a few weeks ago, Ingram Micro signed a deal with Google.
Put that together folks. Ingram Micro — old school and Google — new school, got together and talked about doing something together. It kind of surprises me a bit to see this move.
So perhaps this is the support model. Not because I don’t think Google couldn’t build a channel (they seem to be able to do anything with their nearly endless supply of talent and capital) but it seems contrary to who they are, doesn’t it? Google has built a company based on no-touch, and thus my team mates and I at Rubicon sometimes call Google the 6 letter word for “no-support” as if we were part of a NYT crossword puzzle answer. But, hey, let’s be real support is not in the Google model. So when their blogger technology goes down and doesn’t come for a few days, hey stuff happens. It’s free, what more do you want?
SMBs like many markets need some hand-holding. And that support gap represents a great opportunity for the channel to come in and make sure the full solution is complete. So the move with Ingram seems some evidence that will embrace the channel. But, hmmm. It just don’t feel right. Maybe it’s that I know how many companies have done the Ingram PR announcement only to “not get” the channel. I remember winning an award from VAR business when I worked at Apple. It came with a letter that effectively said, “we, at VAR business, are surprised to find you guys pulled your head out of your a** and so give you this award.” It was funny then, it’s funnier now. It’s that SO many vendors do it badly, that its just practically amazing to see a fully integrated plan that allows the channel to be an extender of a strategy that includes the total picture.
Time will tell if Google is serious about offering support through the channel. This will be an interesting one to watch.

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