Google is launching a new Cloud Partner Program that will formalize the ecosystem around its cloud compute and storage products and bring new ways for customers to tap into Google’s cloud offerings. They’ll also offer levels of service and support that might be difficult for Google alone to provide.

The new Google Cloud Platform Partner program, announced Tuesday on Google’s Enterprise Blog, will feature two types of partners: service partners and and technology partners.

Service partners are the companies and vendors that will supply the knowledge resources for customers to jump into the Google cloud. The technology partners will provide actual software to connect their existing tools or new tools to Google’s Compute Engine, Cloud Storage or the SQL-based BigQuery database engine.

One Partner's Perspective

One of those technology partners is Jaspersoft, a business intelligence (BI) vendor that’s been building a name for itself in the big data sector.

Playing to its strengths, Jaspersoft was already working with Google to build a connector between BigQuery and Jaspersoft’s BI tools when Google started formalizing the relationship, according to Ben Connors, Worldwide Head of Alliances for Jaspersoft.

As Connors tells it, JasperSoft’s customers were very much driving the push towards connecting to Google’s cloud tools even before the formal Partner Program was put in place. For a company like Jaspersoft, this kind of early interest is a positive sign for the Google Cloud.

“It’s going to look very much like the [Amazon Web Services] EC2 ecosystem,” Connors said in a recent interview.

That kind of enthusiasm from a new partner is to be expected, but there’s some truth in what Connors is saying. Google Cloud is one of just two other players (Microsoft’s Azure being the other) with the scale to seriously compete with Amazon Web Services right now, and the addition of a formal partner program will help put Google on a surer footing when it comes to comparisons with Amazon’s EC2 and Simple Storage Service (S3).

An Emphasis on Big Data

Google’s current roster of partners is relatively small (21 technology partners and 28 service partners), but like Jaspersoft, many of the players on the technology side are active in the big data sector. That should help the Google Cloud Platform keep up with this sector’s explosive growth.

Google’s new Partner Program is exactly what the company needs to have its Cloud Platform taken more seriously. By engaging managed services partners and cloud integrators, Google is finally connecting its huge brand to the cloud in a more accessible way. At the same time, the move addresses Google’s perceived weaknesses in sales, support and service.

When Google announced the beta of Compute Engine at its I/O developers conference, it noted that the key barrier to wider adoption wasn’t technology, but sales and customer support.

There is little doubt Amazon and Microsoft will respond to Google’s cloud moves, and smaller providers like Rackspace and Artisan are making significant inroads as well. And they already have partner programs, too.

Cloud computing just keeps getting more interesting.