Google took another step on Wednesday toward direct competition with Microsoft by recruiting IT resellers to market its Web-based applications to business clients
The company announced
a program enabling technology solution providers to sell Google Apps to businesses around the world. Authorized resellers will be able to sell, customize and support Google Apps Premier Edition for customers of all sizes.
"Google Apps has reached a level of maturity where it is useful and valuable for almost any business" said Dave Girouard, President of Enterprise, Google. "This program gives IT solution providers an easy way to introduce cloud computing to their service offerings, while helping more businesses make the transition to this new era of technology."
Google said thet it would provide resellers with training, support, and tools for sales and marketing, as well as access to tools for integrating Google Apps into their customers' business operations. Resellers will bill their customers directly, enabling them to retain a close relationship with customers. Resellers can also bundle additional services and support with Google Apps.
Google said that it had already rolled out the program successfully to more than 50 pilot partners worldwide.
Google Apps is broadly similar to Microsoft's top-selling Office package except that Apps is completely Web-based and is part of Google's push into so called 'cloud computing' or software-as-a-service. Microsoft said in October it is also looking at adding Web-based features for its Office applications.
Google's reseller program will include a portal with a set of business and technical information, and online discussion groups, sales training, technical training, and customer marketing materials, reseller tools for setting up business customers, provisioning end users, management, and reporting, integration APIs (REST-based) for directory synchronization, migration, reporting, and single sign-on.
The Google Apps reseller program is now open for applications from interested firms around the world (www.google.com/apps/resellers).
Authorized resellers will be able to begin selling Apps by the end of March.
The Google Apps Premier Edition suite of communication and collaboration tools includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, Google Talk, and Google Video for business.
Google cuts recruiting staff
In related news, Google said Wednesday it was cutting its recruiting staff by 100 people as it slowed hiring due to dismal economic conditions.
"Google is still hiring, but at a reduced rate," the Internet titan's vice president of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, wrote in a blog posting on the California company's website. "Given the state of the economy, we recognized that we needed fewer people focused on hiring." The staff trimming came after Google stopped using many of its outside contractors, including those that provided recruiting services.
"We have with great regret decided that we need to go further and reduce the overall size of our recruiting organization by approximately 100 positions," Bock wrote. "We know this change will be very difficult for the people concerned, and we hope that many of them will be able to find new roles at Google."