Six months ago, Compugen Inc. president Harry Zarek wasn’t interested in teaming with Google to sell its enterprise search products here, but on Tuesday he announced that the company has become the search software giant’s first Canadian systems integrator.

“I don’t think they have articulated a message that appeals to IT customers,” he told ITBusiness.ca in April, but has since changed his mind.

“They educated us they do have a version of the product that is appropriate for the enterprise,” Zarek explained, “one that what I can say has similar functionality to the consumer product, and (that) they understand the issues that enterprises have with data and data search.”

In addition to providing implementation and consulting services for Google’s software, it will also resell Google’s rack mount appliances.

“I think they’ve matured as an organization.”

Google has been looking for VAR relationships since it launched a partner program 12 months ago to sell search appliances based around its search software. Earlier this year Google signed Non-Linear Creations, a content management specialist with offices in Ottawa and Toronto.

The idea is to create what it calls an ecosystem around its enterprise products, which include Google Toolbar, Google Desktop, Google Earth Enterprise (a database of satellite maps), Google Maps and SketchUp Pro, a 3D modeling tool.

Industry analysts see Google as trying to create a platform around its technologies that could open opportunities or challenges to the channel. ISVs could build applications around Google Desktop or Google Earth, for example. A Texas company specializing in content management sees a perfect fit with Google’s ad-hoc query technology.

In August it began marketing Google Apps For Your Domain, a bundle offree hosted services including e-mail, instant messaging, calendars and Webcreation tools for small businesses. But it has said it will eventuallycharge for corporate versions.

On the other hand, Forrester Research recently said that enterprise searchproducts from Google, IBM and Microsoft are strong performers but lack thebreadth of capabilities and focus to be considered more broadly as searchplatforms. Companies such as FAST of Norway, Autonomy and EndecaTechnologies are among this sector’s leaders, it said.

Google has signed some 60 partners in the U.S. and Europe , mostly small ISVs or boutique consultants. However, they also included BearingPoint, an international systems integrator and consulting firm.

Zarek says Google, which approached Compugen in the late summer, pitched their products as a “services or solution-led offering.”

In a news release Micheal Lock, director of North American sales for Google Enterprise, said Compugen is “an ideal reseller” for its products. “They have a cross-country presence that will allow customers from all over Canada to more easily acquire and deploy Google’s enterprise seach technology.”

Compugen, which has revenues of roughly $250 million a year from selling infrastructure and IT optimization products and services, has offices in 14 Canadian cities.

Interestingly, Compugen will be able to resell the Google Search Appliance on its own, a switch in the company’s strategy. In April Google told ITBusiness.ca that its partners could include the appliance in its packages it assembles but the hardware would actually be sold by its direct sales staff: Partners wouldn’t get any revenue.

“They’ve change that,” said Zarek. Compugen has two agreements with Google: one to sell professional services, and another for reselling hardware.

Compugen staff have already undergone training to sell and support Google Enterprise search products. The company has already done some early marketing at trade shows in Ontario and Quebec and got a “very strong response” from potential customers, Zarek said.

Part of the partnership calls for joint marketing activity at industry events and the creation of Webinars.

Zarek said Compugen is targeting companies of all sizes with an IT department that not only have large amounts of data to be indexed and searched, but also have some security or regulatory constraints.

Microsoft has made noises that it wants to push into enterprise search, but has yet to announce products beyond desktop. Although it is tight with Microsoft, Zarek apparently felt no need to wait.

“We’ve worked closely with Microsoft in their next release of Office, and they have search capability as part of that Zarek said. But, he added, “my sense is Google has had a number of years to optimize their search capabilities.”

He wouldn’t reveal what margins or profits he expects from offering Google Enterprise products, other than to say they would be similar to other products the company carries.

“I think there are going to be multiple products in the search space,” said Zarek. “It is an emerging market segment, one that will have, hopefully, good services opportunities in addition to product resale.”

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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