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Google has responded to Microsoft's price cuts of Office 365 for SMBs by launching a new partnership with Rackspace.

Rackspace is offering US customers fully managed IT services for the Google Apps for Work suite, which includes Gmail, Drive and Hangouts. It will also offer Rackspace's migration, deployment and account management services. 

Fighting For SMBs

While Google doesn’t need anyone to help it promote its products, the rebranding of Google Apps to Google Apps for Work underpinned a change in strategy. Google is focusing more on the small-to-medium (SMB) space rather than the enterprise space, which for all intents and purposes is Microsoft’s.

But Microsoft hasn’t been idle in the SMB space either and has been actively pursuing organizations with less than 250 seats since it launched Office 365 more than two years ago. Microsoft, with the full Office 365 business behind, it can offer any organization with any number of seats, even those with less than 25 seats, full support.

And support is going to be key for any organization that is moving from one platform to another, particularly an organization that is considering a move from Google, for example, to Office 365.

While there are no figures available for the number of companies this might have affected in the past, it is unlikely to have been a very large number. The real differentiator between the two suites until recently was price, with those organizations opting for Goolge Apps looking for cheaper price plans.

However, Microsoft has cut prices for its SMB offerings to the point where organizations can get most Office 365 applications for almost the same price as Google Apps for Work.

Google and Rackspace

While Google has been building out its apps and their functionality, it clearly needs to reach as many organizations as possible. It also needs to offer a support service that will connect it with SMBs that are not already in its sphere of influence. Hence the Rackspace deal.

Rackspace is offering not just support, but also migration services. That should help Google a lot here, especially with Rackspace’s Fanatical Support services, which offers organizations the possibly of extending their cloud environments without have to hire the usual collection of experts associated with these kinds of developments.

In effect, this partnership is made in SMB heaven. Through it, Rackspace will offer Google Apps for Work:

  • Deployment Services: This is more than standard deployment but security configuration and mobile device management, too
  • Migration Services: Assistance with the complexities associated with system migrations including DNS configuration and data transfer
  • Account Management: Account management services, which include utilization and availability reporting options

The bottom line here is that Rackspace has joined the Google for Work Partner Program as a Premier SMB Reseller, but will only be accessible to US customers until next year, when it will roll-out internationally.

Title image by Rasmus Andersson  (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.