Billy Franz, Director of Sales for SADA, on the Google Enterprise Ecosystem

In this episode, Billy Franz (Director of Sales and Channel for SADA) explains how modern enterprises are leveraging Google’s G-suite, GCP and Chromebook platforms and products to better their collaboration and cost-optimization.

Episode Transcript:

INTRO: [00:00] Welcome to the Tech in 20 Minutes podcast, where you’ll meet new tech vendors and learn how they can help your business. At ITBroker.com, we believe tech should make your life better, searching Google is a waste of time, and the right vendor is often one you haven’t heard of before.

Max: [00.18] Hi, I’m Max Clark and I’m talking with Billy Franz, who’s the Director of Sales and Channel for SADA Systems. Billy, thanks for joining.

Billy [00.23] Hey Max, thanks for having me – glad to be here and looking forward to it.

Max: [00.29] So, what does SADA do?

Billy: [00.30] So, at a high level, SADA is Google Cloud’s number one partner of the year. We’ve got multiple awards throughout our history of being Google’s ecosystem, but yeah, essentially anything related to Google Cloud – and that umbrella encompasses G-suite, Google Cloud Platform, Google Maps, Google Cloud Search, and then of course there’s a wide array of products and services under each of those umbrellas.

Max: [00.58] For somebody who’s not already engaged with a partner, you know, there’s this perception of, “Why wouldn’t I just go straight to Google? You know, I can go to Google’s website and I can buy G-suite, and I can go to Google’s website and get into the G-cloud…” What does SADA do for me in that situation, and why would I use SADA?

Billy: [01.17] Sure, so that’s actually a very, very good and very common question: why would a customer need to leverage a partner like SADA for Google Cloud? Many people are aware of this, but SADA previously held a Microsoft and Google Cloud practice – we actually sold our Microsoft Cloud practice in March of 2019 and became laser focused on Google Cloud. So in that regard, we are a true consultant in professional services – managed services – and assistance whenever it relates to anything related to a customer needing Google Cloud. As you can imagine, Google is a massive, massive company with hundreds and hundreds of employees… Sometimes, companies like Google, want to just create a product, and in this case those products are G-suite, Google Cloud, Maps, Search, what have you… There needs to be some sort of trust advisor or assistance with the technology related to that. Where it is, Google can create the product, there needs to be somebody that can help that company ramp up, whether it’s spend, or even drive cloud adoption across multiple business lines within the customer’s use case. So, I would say there’s those components and then from that same point to is, we can also help a customer with their cost optimization – or total cost of ownership analysis – with workshops and events to actually help a customer maybe move away from a VM model and into containerization. So like a – what we say – infrastructure modernization or application development design… We can assist with those professional services and engagements there. So, that’s kind of a really high level about our capabilities and how we relate to Google and why a customer would want our services. 

Max: [02.59] Let me see if I have a simplistic answer for that, which would be… Google is a really big company and they don’t necessarily want to provide support, so… If you need support, Google’s probably not the best case for that, so Google says, “Here, talk to our partner.” Or, I’m trying to figure out how to migrate into G-suite or into Google Cloud, and Google again is not necessarily going to help me do that, so if I need help with that I could go to SADA, and SADA would help me figure out how to migrate onto Google, or if I’m making a decision of, “Do I want to be on G-suite or Office 365, or on-prem or off-prem, how would I leverage this?” That’s something that Google wouldn’t necessarily help me with, but SADA would?

Billy: [03.38] That’s correct – and to be clear, Google does provide support for that… In fact, whenever you purchase licensing agreements with SADA, SADA is the biller of record, but on top of that – not only do you get Google’s traditional support – you also get SADA’s support. Actually, that’s a really, really good segue to something that I don’t really talk about too often, but we have customer success managers, account managers, and even technical account managers that act as like a “cloud concierge”, and that cloud concierge, they really focus more so on cloud adoption from a customer standpoint. Think of it from a customer perspective as an advisor on how to better utilize cloud to its optimal capacity – and these resources are not incentivized to capture wallet share, they’re not incentivized to help drive revenue, they’re simply there to act as a – like I said – a cloud concierge for a customer. So, you get that feature on top of Google support – it’s just an additional resource. On top of that, a piece I always kind of bring up to customers and to even channel partners out there is, think about the last time you as a customer loaded a trouble ticket; the different levels of engagement required here and there, and the different routing that you got from a big company like… The multiples out there that exist… Imagine now having that trust advisor like SADA to come in and handle those escalations from start to finish, and actually own the engagement. In fact, Google grades us a partner in their ecosystem based on customer satisfaction, adoption, implementation, customer success and satisfaction – and then also the revenue that we generate back and forth to Google. So, that’s a really good idea and example of what’s happening.

Max: [05.17] I mean, this isn’t in conflict with Google; Google wants customers working with SADA to make their experience with Google better. This is very much a symbiotic relationship in an ecosystem that Google’s building out with their partners now. 

Billy: [05.30] Yeah, spot on – exactly. In fact, that’s actually the whole reason that SADA recruited me over, was to come over and help build out an inside sales and grow the channel practice, to help drive new logo, and new business back to Google, and then on top of that – as you talk about the symbiotic relationship – you’re spot on. We go hand in hand oftentimes with Google, and it’s important to call out that… Customers will not pay anything extra by being on SADA paper and purchasing Google Cloud. So, we pass our same price that Google gives us on to the customer, and all our features and services are bolted on. 

Max: [06.10] We should probably talk about something a little more basic here which is, why Google in the first place? You know, as an enterprise is making this evaluation of a shift to a cloud or a change in their productivity suite or their email platforms – if they’re not already on G-suite, right? What is the driver into Google, and why are companies picking Google versus alternatives in the market?

Billy: [06.35] That’s a really good question and actually quite common at the various workshops that I go to, so thanks for asking that. If you look at Google and their claim to fame, Google’s first step into kind of the ‘enterprise segment’ was indexing the internet, which as we know is a really, really freaking hard task to do – it’s constantly updating all the time, right? So, if you take that component, there are artificial intelligence pieces, and then on top of that, providing a positive and quality customer experience enabled through machine learning, you kind of start marrying the two together with AI and ML, kind of two fancy buzzwords that customers and partners like to use and talk about… Google is kind of the pioneer for that, especially in the cloud space. So, as you start talking about databases, and how do you start analysing and indexing that database, and getting the most value out of that data set, and the data science pieces around AI and ML, Google Cloud leads that component. And then I would say another factor that’s kind of been the leading charge on this, is we’re starting to see developers – I don’t want to say moving away from VMs and into containers or microservices – but realistically, coders and developers out there are enabling containerization and utilizing microservices to get applications deployed at a faster rate. Google was actually first to market in orchestrating Kubernetes, which is the orchestration engine around the microservices. And that Kubernetes – because Google believes in an open cloud platform – has enabled their Kubernetes engine to be open-sourced, and now you’re seeing AWS adopt their Kubernetes engine, and then Azure as well. So realistically, as developers are changing the way that they code from monolithic services to microservices, in app-dev… It only seems to be a natural fit to be on Google Kubernetes engine rather than two other resources that are playing catch-up.

Max: [08.31] Are you seeing enterprises shift from you know, Microsoft Exchange, Office 365, into G-suite? I mean, is this a common practice now within SADA, making that transformation for people? 

Billy: [08.44] Yeah, so that’s actually a really, really cool shifting gear there, right? Going from GCP to G-suite, so yeah – absolutely. We see that very, very common – most people don’t actually know it, but about twelve percent of Fortune 500 companies are actually on G-suite today, and in fact, seventy-five percent of the education market is actually utilizing Gmail and G-suite in some capacity, across the nation. So, again – that’s seventy-five percent of our education market. So, what we’re seeing from a competitive standpoint and customer standpoint as to why they wouldn’t move away from O365 or even Lotus Notes, over to G-suite is three main drivers. The first is cost, and Google actually just released a new package called G-suite Essential, which is Google Drive, and included in Drive are Docs, Sheets, and Slides – so it’s kind of the editors to compete with the productivity suite over at 365. And then you also get Google Video Chat in that Essential package. And then there’s basic, business and enterprise. You can think of those as six, twelve, twenty-five for the pricing model – so it comes up to a little bit less than your O365 competition. And then on top of that, you can play UCAAS consolidation around that suite. Then the second driver after cost is the collaboration features that G-suite enables, and that’s collaboration around device agnostic; so you can bring your laptop, desktop, tablet, your phone even – and get pretty much cross-functional, super ease of use pulling from the cloud, and then on top of that, the traditional with minimalist design, so the ease of use, the functionality, the collaboration aspects, where you and I Max are in the same chat, I noticed you sent over a Google Doc to prepare for this, which I absolutely loved – I hit you back with some comments on there, we got to share a few things really, really quickly, and we didn’t even have to set up a conference call prior to this to hash out what we wanted to talk about, so I loved it. And the third right, is recruitment? As I mentioned before, seventy-five percent of today’s education market is already utilizing G-suite, so we’re seeing a really, really big provider out there – I’m sorry, a really big customer out there – is a consultation firm that is known for hiring specific Ivy League, MBA candidates or MBA holders, and to get ahead of their competition and stay one step ahead of everybody else, they adopted G-suite so that they could ramp up their new hires on a faster rate. So, those are kind of the three big things on G-suite adoption, I’ll summarize them again: cost, collaboration, and recruitment.

Max: [11.18] In traditional IT models, you’d be installing Word, Excel, PowerPoint on the computer and an IT helpdesk would be supporting those. With Google, this is a browser-based application, it’s running in the cloud, your support cycle changes a lot with that, and again that comes back to, “What is SADA doing for me as an enterprise? I can’t troubleshoot somebody’s Google Docs installation, because it’s not installed anywhere,” right? It’s a very different animal. I have conversations with enterprises and you know, the Chromebooks come up a lot, as people talk about device fleet management. What are we doing? What’s our standardization, how do we structure this information, how do we protect it? What has SADA seen around Chromebook and around Chromebook adoption? Is this something that is trending upwards within enterprise users?

Billy: [12.02] Yeah, so now you’re kind of getting into a really fun package, right? If we can get the trifecta of sorts for our customer that wants to purchase Chromebooks, get them utilizing G-suite licensing on top of those Chromebooks, and then have that plugged in and try and get that customer to utilize Google Maps, and adopt the GCP platform for their workloads – now you’re talking a real, massive Google shop. There are customers out there – you know quite a few of them – we actually had a very, very large customer out of North Central United States, they are a large pizza-making company, and delivering pizzas, but they bought a lot of Chromebooks from SADA… And we’re seeing a lot of – around those Chromebooks – the adoption there is mainly because of simplicity and ease of use. Again, touch-screen, flip model, you put the G-suite license on top of it and you’ve got an out of the box solution that – all the way from top to bottom of your employee stack – can utilize this hardware and this technology, and it’s again, very simple plug and play. So, we are seeing that; the licensing as far as… Across the board, G-suite, Chrome and then get the Chromebooks, and then get the GCP spend, so… Spot on. 

Max: [13.21] Who are your customers? I mean, what is – is this an industry vertical specific, or geography specific, or is it sizing? You know, I mean if – are you talking about companies that are over a certain employee count, or within certain ranges? I mean, what becomes that makeup of a company… Let’s say they’re already on G-suite or have already made the decision to go to G-suite – they’re already on GCP, and they’re looking for a partner. You know, what becomes a natural fit for SADA?

Billy: [13.51] Sure, so – I would say any customer for GCP, right, that is looking to optimize their cloud, their infrastructure, or change the way that they go to business within a cloud model… So GCP – actually one of our biggest clients said, if you go into SADA… SADA’s website, you’ll see a really, really cool video produced with MadHive. They started as a tech start-up in adtech, and came over to SADA and got to see the white glove treatment on how we bring in a customer and how we drive utilization and adoption on GCP, and now we have a fantastic relationship at the C-level engagement, back and forth, and our support model and how we have been able to help MadHive grow as a customer of GCP and then on top of that, getting them to drive the adoption and actually becoming a champion for GCP. So – and they started as start-up, and now they’re a massive company out of the – I think they’re out of the East Coast, maybe they’re out of LA, but essentially they – I forget exactly where they’re HQ’d at, but they have grown from a small start-up to a very successful company with a very strong business model in adtech. From a G-suite customer perspective, we like to stay around – at minimum – around a hundred seats or so, and then grow from there. And then on top of all this, right – I want to be very clear to you – because I didn’t highlight this on the G-suite methodology, but we have resources that can assist with change management and digital transformation. So, if the customer needs workshops in understanding and how to utilize the G-suite productivity set, or need a workshop on how to drive digital transformation in creating champions all around the ecosystem, we have those resources available, to assist a customer in driving adoption and utilization across G-suite and GCP, and sometimes we can actually get Google to help subsidize those resources if they’re new to the platform.

Max: [15.46] Sure, it’s in Google’s best interest of course, to get people using the platform, and at the same time it’s a big one for the enterprise, because when you deliver tools, if people aren’t using the tools, you know – you’re paying money for the tools that you’re not taking advantage of. I want to go back for a moment to SADA’s integration and support with the customer, because you offer different layers of support, and we should talk about this from G-suite and GCP. You’re not an all-or-nothing shop, I mean there is some options and you know, customisation and selectable and what levels of engagement are. So, starting with G-suite – what does that actually mean for an enterprise of… Where you can integrate with just an IT department, all the down to something maybe a little deeper into the structure of the organization?

Billy: [16.25] Sure, yeah. So, from that standpoint, as far as integration and working with a large enterprise, what we actually are seeing quite a bit more in this space is a small segment within a large customer wants to adopt G-suite. So, in this example – let me just take a large financial institution – their marketing would prefer to be on G-suite, rather than the alternative, and once you get sixty licenses… Let’s say the account has maybe 2500 seats, but their marketing arm is about sixty, headcount. So, we go in, we talk with the CMO, all the way down to the actual creative design team, you know – why they need to utilize G-suite? We drive the adoption on a small scale of fifty, sixty, a hundred seats, however many you want to say, and it kind of creates this Trojan horse; this team that’s utilizing G-suite. They champion it, they talk about it, they talk about it to their peers in sales, or finances, sales operations, engineering or resources, right? And then all of a sudden, you kind of create a sticky product, and it grows and it expands beyond that like wildfire, which is why I use the Trojan horse methodology, right? Get in there, talk about it, create some champions, and then grow it. So, that’s kind of on the G-suite side. For GCP, what we oftentimes see is collaboration between a CIO and CTO. So the CTO’s going to focus his eyes on technology that is customer-facing, and how they can better the product. What we see there is… With GCP, is it’s cost reduction and cost savings that the CTO can take advantage of, to reduce his cost, and pass along that savings to the customer, to help his sales team win more deals, at a fast rate. The CIO naturally wants to save on cost, same with the CFO. So, what we try and do is talk to the VP of Architecture, VP of Development, Design, and see what they want to do and how they want to go to market, where we can find cost savings or reductions, and then on top of that create some sort of augmentation, or what workloads would be a good fit for that customer to deploy in GCP, to either save on cost, or create optimization. 

Max: [18.31] And what’s great also with SADA is, I can make a decision as a customer to… I’m looking for admin-level interaction and support, where my IT team is still going to be dominantly responsible for the tools and you know, our internal users’ experience with this platform, but you’re going to be able to provide it at a layer above that for expertise, so how can we configure ediscovery or vaults, or data loss prevention, or any of these sorts of things where… It’d take a long time for that team to get up to speed on those things, or understand what best practices are, and then you can go from there all the way down to end-user support, where you know, “Hey, here’s an 800 number, and here’s an email, and here’s how you interact with SADA, and if you need help with G-suite you know, this is how you get support with that.” And you can take that load off of an IT team, if necessary as well.

Billy: [19.16] Yeah, so you actually bring up a really, really cool point. One of the cool things about G-suite and GCP is a lot of those features are natively built into their design, right? Like, multi-device management, data loss prevention, the vault storage for security purposes, so lots of people don’t realize also that GCP is – to my knowledge – is the only cloud provider that actually encrypts data at rest and in transit. So, it’s built with security in mind, and then from the standpoint of support – to your point, Max – is, we at SADA, we have a 24/7/365, one hundred percent North American based tech support. So, that is a really big value add to customers. And again, that sits on the top of the already-existing support for why to buy Google. 

Max: [20.02] Awesome. Billy, I could go on for a lot longer here, but it’s been a pleasure, and thank you very much for your time.

Billy: [20.09] Yeah Max, thank you very much for having me, it was really cool to be here. I appreciate it, I look forward to hitting the links here soon, man. Thanks, buddy.

Max: [20.17] Talk to you soon, thanks.OUTRO: [20.19] Thanks for joining the Tech in 20 Minutes podcast. At ITBroker.com, we believe tech should make your life better, searching Google is a waste of time, and the right vendor is often one you haven’t heard of before. We can help you buy the right tech for your business, visit us at ITBroker.com to schedule an intro call.