Google Strikes Back At Microsoft By Landing A Huge Customer/Partner For Its Office Killer

Larry PageGoogle+/Larry PageGoogle CEO Larry Page

Just one day after Microsoftsaid it will give away unlimited cloud storage to consumers who buy its cloud Office apps, Google has a big announcement forGoogle Apps for Work, its Microsoft Office killer.

Google has signed PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to be both a customer and a partner for Google Apps for Work.

Apps for Work is Google’s cloud alternative to Microsoft Office, geared for businesses. It includes email, word processing, spreadsheet and presentation software, cloud storage, and a few other apps that all make it easy for employees to share and work on documents together.

PwC will roll out Google Apps for Work to 45,000 of its own employees in the US and Australia, Google says.

That’s not the entirety of PwC’s workforce, which employs about 180,000 people worldwide, but it’s still a big contract for Google Apps.

Even more importantly, PwC, which has a huge IT consulting arm, will help its customers move to Google Apps and will help them write custom enterprise and mobile apps to be hosted on Google’s cloud.

PwC counts 417 of the Fortune’s Global 500 as “customers” in some way, shape, or form.

By signing PwC as a partner, Google just nabbed a huge enterprise sales force and many consultants, people who are used to navigating the complexities of a selling software to enterprises (which includes things like difficult bidding processes, contract negotiations, etc.).

Navigating an enterprise contract has historically been Google’s weak spot. Google has been overcoming that, getting the necessary security certifications to make enterprises trust its cloud with their data. And it’s been signing on sales partners. Earlier this year, Google signed Sprint as a partner to sell Apps to its business customers. A few years ago, it signed HP as a partner, too.

Its list of big customers is growing, too — like the city of Boston, Whirlpool, Roche, Woolworth’s, and so on. Those names help convince other big companies to use Google Apps instead of Microsoft Office.

Enterprises are increasingly looking to use cloud computing to host their apps, instead of buying servers and running everything in their own clouds. There’s a huge land grab going on right now between all the major IT vendors to take these customers, particularly between Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM, with others like HP, Oracle,, in the mix, too.

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