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Google Apps Partner Program Gains Ground

Google played up its nascent partner program on Thursday as a potential Microsoft alternative.

Google currently has more than 1,000 partners in its Google Apps Reseller Program, which started in January 2009, according to Stephen Cho, director of Google Apps Channels, in a phone interview. The partner program serves small, medium and large organizations with a bundle of online productivity applications and e-mail service that's priced at $50 per user per year on a subscription basis.

An early Google Apps partner was LTech, a Microsoft partner based in Bridgewater, N.J. that now attributes its success to teaming with Google. In a Google blog testimonial, Ed Laczynski, founder and chief technology officer at LTech, wrote that LTech was "frustrated by a lack of innovation" when working with Microsoft. LTech also wasn't getting the kind of support it needed, according to Laczynski's account.

"The Microsoft Partner Program was and is a great program for developers in terms of providing SDKs and IDEs, but it was difficult to navigate and even more difficult for us to get support and build a true partnership," Laczynski wrote in the blog.

LTech is still a Microsoft partner and it serves organizations of all sizes with packaged solutions that include its own software (such as its single sign-on application) as well as software from other vendors. Laczynski said in a phone interview that LTech has found that its customers can get more value from an open stack, and that Google Apps offers them "more bang for the buck."

Still, Laczynski didn't rule out Microsoft, especially with its new online offerings having been released. However, he commented in a phone interview that Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), a collection of online Microsoft applications hosted by Microsoft or its partners, has had "a lot of outage issues" so far.

Google offers its partners a 20 percent discount on the list price of Google Apps, Cho said. He added that Google was careful to give its Google Apps reseller partners control over billing the customer, something that's now offered by Microsoft to its partners providing hosted applications.

In addition, Google offers a "reseller console" that enables partners to place orders and provision seats, Cho said. Microsoft offers similar capabilities with its Volume Licensing Service Center, which was recently revamped.

LTech's margins as a Google Apps reseller range from 20 percent to 100 percent, Laczynski said, averaging at about 40 percent. Much of LTech's success derives from developing software for specific industries, such as education, technology and real estate.

Google has chalked up LTech in the win category, but it still has a long way to go. Microsoft's worldwide partner network is estimated at about 600,000 organizations according to the May cover story of Redmond Channel Partner, headlined "Will Google Disrupt the Microsoft Channel?"

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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