Salesforce.com is announcing rather breathlessly--using the headline, "A Dream Come True for Your Business"--that it will start reselling Google Apps. Henry Blodget, in Silicon Alley Insider, characterizes the deal as, "Google-Salesforce Deal Shows Google Not Insane, Microsoft Disruption Continues." A more accurate headline (and analysis) would have been, "Google-Salesforce Deal Shows Google Apps is Struggling, Microsoft Disruption Continues."
Fourteen months after announcing Google Apps, Premier Edition, Google still has not convinced a major corporation to install Google Apps enterprise wide. I've heard rumors that Genentech has decided on Google Apps, but the connection there is that Dr. Arthur Levinson, the Chairman and CEO of Genentech, also serves on the Board of Directors at Google.
A year ago, Google announced Google Apps Premier Edition to great fanfare, and the cheap price ($50 per user per year) meant that Google got its foot in the door at many corporations. But Google then found that enterprises, after listening to the sales pitch, slammed the door on their leg. It isn't that enterprises aren't listening--they didn't shut the door completely--but at the same time they aren't opening the door wide, welcoming Google in, and signing the necessary paperwork.
There are a number of reasons for this wariness, but they all come down to the fact that Google Apps is missing certain features expected by large corporations: e.g., an offline ability to work (which Google is fixing by stages), records management for documents (Google has a solution for e-mail), and role-based administration (which Google says it's working on). In other words, the strong Google brand hasn't been able to overcome product shortcomings. (That Google was figuring its brand would overcome any objections was brought home to me one day when a client told me that when they told Google that they wouldn't be buying, the Google sales rep blurted out, "But you have to--we're Google!")
This is not to say Google Apps hasn't been successful--it has been in the SMB and education markets, where requirements aren't as stringent and the price isn't as high (Google Apps Education Edition is free). But Google hasn't been able to sell Google Apps to the Fortune 500, and that's frustrating it.
Consequently, it's changing its sales strategy. The first thing it did was sign up Capgemini to support and recommend Google Apps, but the only installation I'm aware of through that partnership is an internal installation of Google Apps at Capgemini itself. Then Google came out with Google Apps Team Edition, which bypasses the IT gatekeepers and encourages business users to ultimately gang up on IT and demand the solution's installation. (I can't imagine that strategy has won a lot of friends in IT departments. They're probably sitting there thinking, "Google is doing evil.")
The latest gambit is to have Salesforce.com sell it. Salesforce has a much larger sales force, and is also much more enterprise savvy. Also, the integration within the Salesforce.com application is quite nice. However, this is an installed base play--non-Salesforce.com customers won't be touched by this initiative.
Google Apps is a supreme disrupter and creating a whole new market sector in the process. But until Google figures out how to talk to the enterprise and offer a product it needs, it's going to be stuck at the door--and companies already in the door (e.g., Adobe, Cisco, Microsoft) are going to be working hard to get a signature before Google does.