Google is recruiting resellers to make its Apps set of messaging, collaboration and security applications a better fit for businesses.

In 2008, Google Apps advanced through the addition of features such as Salesforce.com integration and video capabilities, as well as through big contract wins with the likes of construction giant Taylor Woodrow, the Telegraph Media Group and the University of Westminster. Today, Google claims “hundreds of thousands” of paying users and over 10 million active users but critics have long carped that, aside from relationships such as that with Capgemini, Google lacks the traditional channels to get it into more mainstream IT shops.

Google aims to fix that with the Google Apps Authorised Reseller Programme, a global scheme that will allow partners to work directly with customers, providing front-line support for end users as well as administrators. The partners get a cut when firms sign up for the paid-for Premier Edition and can up-sell buyers with support, migration, integration, training and other consulting work. Google said it has about 50 pilot resellers.

As well as traditional resellers, Google said it hopes to attract ISPs and carriers that can build out broader cloud computing offerings.

“Being a system integrator is so 20th century but being a cloud integrator is exciting,” said Peter Lorant, Google head of enterprise partners in Europe. “Some companies that have strong IT departments will be fine on Google Apps but integrators will be able to add value by things like migration of legacy data and sharing best practices and workflows.”

At the same time, Google has changed terms and conditions so that new firms signing up for Google Apps will have to take the Premier Edition if they provision to 50 users or more.

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