Google announced today that it had cut a deal with Ingram Micro to sell and distribute its Google Search Appliance and Google Mini. This is a smart move, as Ingram Micro is a powerhouse in distribution, and it gives Google many more feet on the street. In addition, Google is now up to having sold 9,000 search appliances, a number that dwarfs the number of enterprise search installations done by Autonomy, FAST Search, and others.
I would view this a more general pattern of ecosystem growth by Google. The company is at the point where it can't hire people fast enough to support the many areas it wants to get into. Cutting alliances with Ingram Micro (distributing the search appliances), open source advocates (having others work on Google Gears), and professional services companies (third-party implementation of Google Analytics, for example) continues Google's growth while spreading the largess around.
The questions that arise are the common partner questions: how well will Google support its partners now that the handshakes have taken place and how it will deal with the inevitable conflicts (e.g., what will it do when both Google's sales force and Ingram Micro's salesforce try to sell into the same company?). We'll have to wait and see.