Google Cloud is inviting outside partners to its internal sales kickoff conference for the first time ever (GOOG, GOOGL)

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For the first time ever, Google Cloud is inviting partners to its Accelerate sales kickoff conference, which has historically been for the company’s own employees, Business Insider has learned.This year’s conference comes as Thomas Kurian hits his one-year anniversary as CEO of Google Cloud, following a long tenure at Oracle.Partners have become crucial in the cloud wars, as Google looks to build alliances in the market as it chases the dominant Amazon Web Services and second-place Microsoft Azure.”It delivers on the promise of the journey with Google Cloud, to treat partners as an extension of themselves by inviting them to their sales kickoff, which has never been allowed before,” Tony Safoian, president and CEO of SADA Systems, a Google partner, told Business Insider. The Accelerate conference is also a major milestone for Google Cloud sales president Robert Enslin, who joined from SAP last year and has already made his mark on the company.Click here to read more BI Prime stories.When Google Cloud hosts its annual Accelerate sales kickoff conference in Las Vegas next week, there’ll be one big difference: For the first time ever, it’s formally inviting its partners to attend, Business Insider has learned.”Intel has been invited and is very pleased to attend Google Accelerate. This is the first time Google Cloud has invited partners to attend,” an Intel spokesperson told Business Insider. Other partners also told Business Insider that they will be in attendance.Google Cloud was not available for comment.The move comes as the cloud giants move to build alliances in the industry, amid escalating competition. Microsoft, considered the second-place player in the cloud market, has decades worth of partnerships to draw on, while Amazon Web Services has used its dominant position to attract a robust partner network in a relatively short span.Bringing partners in on the Accelerate conference, then, is a way for Google Cloud to bring them deeper into the fold.”It delivers on the promise of the journey with Google Cloud, to treat partners as an extension of themselves by inviting them to their sales kickoff, which has never been allowed before,” Tony Safoian, president and CEO of SADA Systems, a Google Cloud partner, told Business Insider. The Accelerate conference roughly coincides with the one-year anniversary of Thomas Kurian’s tenure as CEO of Google Cloud — a timeframe which saw the company make big moves like acquiring data analytics startup Looker for $2.6 billion, in a deal that has yet to close.More germane, Kurian also brought in new execs like Robert Enslin, a veteran of SAP, who took over Google Cloud’s sales efforts as president of the business. Indeed, Safoian credits Enslin for the decision to bring partners to what stands to be the first Accelerate event since he joined last April.The importance of partnersPartners take a number of forms in the cloud computing business. Some, like SADA Systems, help their customers install and maintain Google Cloud services. Others, like Intel, partner with Google Cloud to co-engineer specialized products.Having an active partner network is good for business, too. Microsoft, generated $9.5 billion in annual contracted partner revenue in the past two years, and claims that 95% of its commercial revenue flows through partners.Meanwhile, Doug Yeum, head of worldwide channel and alliances at AWS, recently told Business Insider that its seven-year-old partner network has found success by helping partners help customers take advantage of cutting-edge new technologies. It then falls on Google, which lags behind Microsoft and AWS in the cloud wars, to build its own partner network, as it chases Kurian’s vision of Google Cloud becoming “at least the number 2 cloud” within a five-year window. To help it get there, its bolstered its acquisitions of CloudSimple, Elastifile, and Looker with partnerships with the likes of  HCL and NetApp.On a final note, Kurian’s predecessor in the role, Diane Greene, made her own overtures to partners: One of the first things she did was to begin personally attending meetings between partners and their customers, SADA Systems said at the time.Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at, Signal at 646.376.6106, Telegram at @rosaliechan, or Twitter DM at @rosaliechan17. (PR pitches by email only, please.) Other types of secure messaging available upon request. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.


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