Google Aims At Microsoft – Google Apps In the Enterprise – Google Sets Up Channel Partners

In an big move Google is taking the classic enterprise sales move – set up a channel.  Indirect channel marketing is great leverage and if pulled off is very disruptive. I’ve spend many years in the channel business with Hewlett-Packard and the channel model is based upon a simple formula – get thousands of people selling your product everywhere.  However, the key to success is money which Google has plenty of.  If Google can incent channel partners with good products and great margin, they will put a dent in the Microsoft dominance.

Here is more detail. Web search leader Google Inc took another step on Wednesday toward direct competition with Microsoft Corp by recruiting IT resellers to market its Web-based applications to business clients.

From the end of March, authorized resellers will be able to sell, customize and support premium versions of Google Apps, which includes word processing, spreadsheets, calendars and email.

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.

Since it launched Google Apps in February 2007, Google has only sold directly to business users over the Web. Analysts said the move to work with third parties is necessary if Google hopes to compete seriously with Microsoft or IBM.

Microsoft, which is the world’s largest software company, sells more than 95 percent of its software through more than 440,000 third party resellers, according to Gartner Research, and intends to spend around $3 billion on managing those sales channels in 2009.