In a recent survey we conducted of our entire customer base - more than 18,000 Google Apps administrators - we gained interesting insight into the reseller community and how and why organizations choose to work with a reseller. From initial migrations, to custom development, training and support, resellers provide a wide range of services that can be beneficial to even the most experienced IT admins.
Having come from a reseller background and now as the founder and CEO of an independent software vendor (ISV) who works with 20 of the top global Google Apps resellers, I've seen first-hand how a reseller can tremendously improve a company's initial experience with Google Apps and set them up for continued success post migration. Resellers provide numerous benefits, but here are my top three benefits of working with a Google Apps reseller.
1. Migration expertise
Of course the most obvious benefit of working with a reseller is the Google Apps migration expertise they provide. Reputable resellers have conducted hundreds or even thousands of migrations to Google Apps and can take the pressure of conducting a full scale migration off your IT department.
When you're making the move to the cloud it's important to bring vital data with you and ensure you're properly set up once working on Google Apps.Before choosing a reseller for your migration, review the following guidelines:
- Ensure the reseller you choose to work with has experience migrating data from your specific legacy mail provider to Google Apps - most resellers are experienced with migrations from Microsoft Exchange, and some specialize in IBM Lotus Notes and Novell Groupwise as well
- Is the reseller you're evaluating a Google Apps Authorized or Premier Reseller?
- Authorized Reseller - An authorized reseller has satisfied minimum prerequisites to join Google's reseller program.
- Premier Reseller - This partnership level is reserved for firms who have proven their competency in the Google Apps Reseller track through various criteria such as number of customers, End User Accounts under management, number of certified professionals, number of published customer success stories, etc. (Read more about the differences between an Authorized and Premier reseller here).
- Seek out recommendations from colleagues who have worked with the reseller before - know what you're getting before signing the contract.
In addition to migrating data from legacy mail clients, the release of Google Drive last summer has opened up a whole new area of migration services for Google Apps resellers, who can now bring files stored in on-premise servers into the Google Enterprise cloud.
Even If you've already migrated to Google Apps, you may still want to engage with a reseller. In fact, according to our survey results, 32% of respondents who did not use a reseller for migration services are still interested in working with a reseller for services like custom application development, user training, and application integrations.
2. User training
An often overlooked yet vitally important part of migrating to Google Apps is user training. Your employees might be power Gmail users, but do they regularly use Google Docs, Sheets and Slides? Are they familiar with Google Drive? Are they comfortable leaving their legacy mail system behind? Most resellers provide training and change management services tailored to the needs and skill level of your user base. Properly training users should significantly increase usage of the Google Apps platform, which means you can lessen your investment in other services, like Microsoft Office.
If you're investing in Google Apps, you want to be sure users are making the most of the platform. Once you've completed your migration and users have undergone change management training, you should monitor Google Apps adoption with the help of a third-party reporting tool, which can show an IT admin the number of items created versus uploaded on Google Drive, the amount of email storage used by employees and the number of logins to Google Apps.
3. Custom application development and third-party product recommendations
If you're moving to Google Apps, but still need to maintain an on-premise server for a custom application - like those from Lotus Domino - take the opportunity to re-build the application on the Google platform (using App Engine or Apps Script). While this can be costly, moving your custom apps to the cloud leaves your IT department with zero maintenance and usually puts you in a position to negotiate a better migration price from a reseller.
While many resellers have experience building custom applications in the cloud, there are only a handful that specialize in the practice. Again, do your due diligence. Get recommendations from organizations who have worked with the reseller not only for migration services, but for custom app development to ensure you're getting the services and expertise advertised.
Just as a reseller can bring on-premise applications into the cloud, they can also recommend third-party cloud based solutions for systems like CRM, marketing automation, employee time tracking, and more. Resellers have put the work in to vet third-party products and can make appropriate recommendations for your business. Sometimes, you can even get a better price on a third-party product when you purchase it through a reseller rather than directly through the Google Apps Marketplace.
Bringing on-premise applications into the cloud and purchasing third-party cloud solutions will help you build a more cohesive, complete cloud strategy.
Google Apps resellers are a vital part of the ecosystem and are a key part of the platform's growth. To find a Google Apps reseller in your area, visit Google's Partner Directory.David Politis is the founder and CEO of BetterCloud, the maker of FlashPanel, the number one cloud management tool for Google Apps, and the Google Apps resource site, AsktheGooru.com. Follow BetterCloud on Google+ at bettercloud.com/plus.