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Google Enteprise set to grow in ME

Local head of Enterprise says regional response 'extremely positive' for Google

Google Enteprise set to grow in ME
Google will increase its operations and channel in the region, says Bendaoua, due to strong demand in the market.

Google's Enterprise division is looking to major expansion in the region, after just three months of full operations.

Abdel Wahed Bendaoua head of enterprise, Google Middle East, Africa, Eastern Central Europe, told itp.net, that since the company launched its Enterprise team in October, the team had very good feedback from the customers they had spoken to so far.

"The [last] three to four months, we have spent to understand what customers know about the cloud, what are their expectations, and what might be their concerns. We have had very positive feedback, 2010 has been a great year for us, and we expect 2011 to be a surprise for us. We expect things to explode, we are extremely positive for 2011," Bendaoua said.

The company, along with partners, has already built a customer base in the "thousands" he said, with around 80-90% of revenue from SMEs, although it has some customers with 1,000 plus users.

Uptake has been strongest in companies with distributed offices, where cloud services are more convenient than trying to deploy solutions across several offices, but Bendaoua said response had been strong across several sectors, and he had been surprised by the complexity of some customers.

Google has one customer in Oman who has over 3,000 users on Google Apps, and is using almost all of the functionality of Google Apps and Google Gadgets, to create a business dashboard, with real time analytics and a very high level of complexity.

"That is one of the examples where we have been learning from our customers about what they have been doing. People just get excited about the technology, go deep in it, and some of them know more about it than I do," Bendaoua said.

The company has seen a good awareness of Google's enterprise capabilities from the government sector, particularly around security, Bendaoua said, and their security requirements around cloud computing. Google is also in discussions with a number of telecoms operators in the region, around packaging Google services with other telecom offerings to increase revenue streams.

Google will look to increase its presence in the region, as at the moment it has very limited bandwidth to address customers. While many customers were already accessing Google services through its local partners, others preferred Google have a direct presence in the region, so that even if they were working with partners, they also had a local Google to rely on. At the same time, while Google intends to increase its own headcount, expanding its channel is also a priority, Bendaoua said, and the company is speaking to potential partners in Qatar, Saudi, the UAE and Oman, as well as expanding its partner ecosystem through value added distributor FVC.

"We are building the partner ecosystem, but we really want to do it well, we want to do it in a way that makes sense for our partners. We do not want our partners to just feel that we are using them as channel, to make business for us, we want to make sure they make money, and that also they are impacting the local economy," he explained.

Bendaoua is also confident that the region's businesses can be convinced of the value of public cloud services. While companies in the region still often raised questions about the security of public cloud, and the location of their data, the cost benefits of using a cloud service were becoming apparent.

"Even a big company of 10,000 employees, you pay $500,000 to Google per year; if you just [build your own data centre] you will pay multi-million dollars up front, and then invest at least half a million every year just to maintain it. That is what the CFO will be looking at," Bendaoua said.

He also pointed to the fact that the level of expertise of security experts employed by Google, and the security of its hardware, would also outstrip the standards that most companies could maintain themselves.

"Once you finish your data centre, you realize you have much more troubles than if you had been using the cloud from a trusted provider," he said.

Bendaoua was also dismissive of vendors that are promoting private cloud solutions: "It is not about private or public cloud, I don't believe that private cloud exists, it is just a marketing term that some people are trying to use in order to still be able to sell you hardware and software. If you look at private cloud, it is just HP, EMC, IBM, trying to sell the traditional stuff, because they don't know how they are going to evolve in the public cloud."

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