Google Inc. – among the highest-profile direct-selling vendors in the industry – is making inroads in one part of the channel through an agreement with Ingram Micro Inc. to distribute two Google search appliances.
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Under the terms of the agreement, Ingram Micro will resell the Google Mini, a storage-and-search server that can store up to 300,000 documents, and the Google Search Appliance (GSA), which stores up to 30 million documents.
The two units, which sit behind a company's firewall, allow IT administrators to build Google's search capability into their own networks, while keeping control of both the search function and the information it presents.
The main benefit of the agreement for Google Enterprise is the ability to gain traction among small- and midsized businesses (SMBs) through Ingram's network of more than 165,000 retailers and resellers worldwide.
"It's great to see a high-profile brand name like Google embrace the channel," said Keith Bradley, Ingram Micro President, North America. "The Mini and GSA are a nice fit for our VAR and DMR partners who service and sell to data-intense environments."
"This is the first major step we are taking into the channel, and the storage channel is one of our key targets," according to Rodrigo Vaca, Google Enterprise's channel marketing manager.
The agreement is a big step forward, but there's a big difference between signing an agreement and successfully engaging the channel in North America, according to Paul Myerson, senior channel analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.
"Instead of going through additional OEM relationships to fulfill channel demand, Google has gone directly to a top-tier distributor to reach the VAR community. This provides Google greater insight to channel requirements, while at the same time showing the solution partner community their commitment to serving them. Now it is all about execution!" Myerson said.
"The Ingram Micro agreement is not an exclusive one," Vaca said. "That said, we are fully committed to making this work, and we don't have any other announcements regarding this coming anytime soon."
Vaca said that Google Enterprise has put incentives in place to reward the company's direct sales channel when they assist their indirect sales teams with a sale. Storage VARs, Vaca said, can make money by selling the products in three ways:
"The first one is obviously the margin that they can get by reselling the product; the second one is any services that the customer's might require in relation to the products such as configuration, implementation, etc.; and then the third one is any other related products that might be attached to a particular deal," Vaca said.
The Google Mini sells for $2,995 with two years of support, and is $1,995 for a one year service agreement. The GSA starts at $30,000 for half a million documents. Vaca said resellers who sell through Ingram Micro would be offered a discount, but did not say by how much.
"Google Enterprise is offering an SMB an alternative to an EMC Documentum or IBM FileNet solution," according to Tom Trainer, analyst with the Evaluator Group Inc. Those [EMC and IBM] solutions are positioned for the enterprise, and not for the SMB market. This is a smart entry on the part of Google and Ingram to offer a small to medium size business the ability to have the search algorithms that makes Google so popular to use with documents, images and other files."
But not all customers will jump at the opportunity, especially those that aren't perpetual early adopters, according to David Olson, vice president of operations at Albany, N.Y. based reseller, Information Management Group, whose customers include conservative government entities such New York State's Dept. of Education.
"We'll have to see how these products sell. The state of New York is not one of these early adopter candidates," Olson said.
Let us know what you think about this story; email: Nicole Lewis, Senior News Writer