For its new cloud, Google learns old tricks

Do you want to put some of your work on the Google(s goog) cloud but don’t have the tech wherewithal to do it? Google will point you to an array of partners to get you there.
On Tuesday, the company launched the Google Cloud Partner Program — a central spot for prospective customers to find vendors, consultants or ISVs with expertise in what you want to do. Partner programs are old hat among the software powers of the past. Microsoft(s msft), IBM(s ibm), Hewlett-Packard(s hpq) all sport big, complicated  programs that aim to woo value-added resellers, integrators, consultants — and try to get those partners to sell their products over those of competitors. All with varying degrees of success.
Now the cloud players are getting in on the act. Google already had a partner program of sorts to help push Google Apps and the Google Appliance into enterprise accounts. Amazon launched a formal partner program earlier this year and will host its first-ever partner event in Las Vegas in November. Microsoft(s msft), which is trying to move tens of thousands of partners into the Windows Azure cloud — or at least try to stop them from freaking out about it — is in a different position.

Cloud shakes up partner programs

But the advent of cloud computing model changes the partnering fundamentals. Traditional software vendors — those who shipped actual software in a box or over the wire for a price — used to woo these partners with free software and other perks as part of their programs. Sometimes the vendors — if they were trying to break into a new arena — actually paid for consulting or development work done on behalf of customers. In the cloud realm where so much of the software and related tools are already free, that model changes. Google is not subsidizing any of this partner work for customers.
Google’s program covers two partner types. Service Partners include consultants and systems integrators who offer hand-holding and implementation services around the Google Compute Engine, Google BigQuery and/or Google Cloud storage.  Technology Partners offer tools that can tie outside products and services into Google’s platform
If you want to use Google BigQuery to crunch some big data but don’t have in-house developers to learn the relevant SDKs, Google lists a passel of analytics partners to help with that including InformaticaPervasive SoftwareTalend and SQLstream on the data import side and QlikTechJaspersoftBime Analytics and Metric Insights on the visualization side.
Google is building an ecosystem and communicating its existence to customers, said David Cope, CMO of  CliQr, a newly minted Google technology partner that helps companies bring legacy applications into the cloud. What the partners get, added Ben Connors, worldwide head of alliances for Jaspersoft, is marketing and technical backup from Google and potentially a lot of customer prospects.

Google takes baby steps

A Google spokeswoman acknowledged that  for this effort “we’re starting small, providing the tools and resources to make it easier for people to adopt cloud platforms through a partner’s service business.”
News of this cloud program comes as Google tries to position its Google Compute Engine and associated services as a for-real competitor to Amazon’s gigantic public cloud infrastructure –– a hefty challenge even for a company with Google’s resources.
The race is on to get customers to adopt cloud services and it appears that all the major players want partners to help grease the skids. 
Photo courtesy of Flickr user brionv