In a move designed to expand its footprint in cloud computing—and crank up the intensity of its competition with Microsoft—Internet giant Google has announced it is launching a reseller program for its Google Apps suite of cloud-based business productivity software. Under the program, Google is throwing open its doors to 50 companies, who—if accepted into the program—will be able to buy the Google Apps Premier Edition for 20 percent off Google’s the $50/year price and offer it to their own customers at a profit. Google will provide the support, training, customer integration, and marketing tools; the resellers just have to get clients on board and manage their own relationships with their customers.
“Google Apps has reached a level of maturity where it is useful and valuable for almost any business,” said Google’s president of enterprise Dave Girouard, in a statement. “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.”
With the rollout of the reseller program, Google is also placing a limit on the number of users in an organization who can tap into the free Google Apps standard edition: as of now, no more than 50 users per organization can use the free edition, although existing customers with more than 50 users—and non-profits and educational institutions—won’t be impacted by the 50-person limit.
Through the reseller program, Google hopes to foster an ecosystem of partners and and-on services that will enhance the value of Google Apps to business and enterprises…plus, enabling resellers is probably a good way to expand the number of business customers using Google Apps. The move is designed to expand Google’s footprint in the enterprise cloud computing space, where the company is setting to face off with cloud-based versions Microsoft’s venerable Office applications suite.
Google has said that more than a million businesses are already using Google Apps.