@Google, microsoft, software, Gartner, Google Workspace, @GoogleWorkspace, @Kelly_Ducourty, @GregTomb1, @jsoltero, @RobertEnslin, @googlecloud, @ThomasOrTK, June 14, 2021, Microsoft Teams, technical issues

Google has hired Gartner’s former vice president of sales and business development to drive worldwide growth in Google Workspace, previously known as G-Suite, as the cloud software giant goes toe-to-toe with Microsoft Teams.

Michael Karner unveiled his new position as Head of Google Workspace Evangelism for Google Cloud today after spending eight years in executive roles at IT research firm Gartner, including most recently as vice president of sales and business development in EMEA. On LinkedIn today, Karner said he’s “looking forward to making an impact” at Google Workspace.

“I started using Google Workspace back in 2006 as one of the first beta testers when it was still called ‘Google Apps’ (later G Suite) – and could see the product grow over the last decade from a user- and technical-perspective,” said Karner in a LinkedIn post. “I’ve previously led and built sales teams across EMEA in the past years in different companies and worked with CIOs and CHROs supporting their digital transformation, Future of Work and Digital Workplace initiatives.”

The former Gartner vice president said he’s combining his expertise in collaboration and productivity solutions, business development and product advocacy. “Representing Google Workspace globally and focusing on Future of Work / New Ways of Working are key priorities for me,” he said.

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve joined @Google as Head of @GoogleWorkspace Evangelism, supporting Google’s growth for its productivity & collaboration platform. Looking forward to it 🙂 @Kelly_Ducourty @GregTomb1 @jsoltero @RobertEnslin @googlecloud @ThomasOrTK pic.twitter.com/SSF7wfxpsh

— Michael Karner (@karner) June 14, 2021

Karner’s hiring comes the same day as Google announces that Workspace will now be available to everyone including consumers on free Google accounts. Google Workspace was officially launched as a rebrand of G-Suite in October 2020. The offer combines a variety of Google communication, productivity and collaboration tools including chat, email, voice and video calling as well as content management into a unified solution.

“Across apps like Gmail, Chat, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Meet and more, our consumer, enterprise and education users choose Google Workspace to stay in touch, share ideas and get more done together every day,” wrote Google’s Workspace Vice President of Marketing Kelly Waldher, and Aparna Pappu, vice president of engineer, in a blog post today. “Now we’re bringing those same innovations to everyone else. Starting today, all of Google Workspace is available to anyone with a Google account.”

The general availably of Google Workspace turns up the competitive pressure against Google’s cloud and collaboration rival Microsoft, specifically with Microsoft Teams in the small-and-medium businesses (SMB) market.

“There’s a lot of small businesses that will go to Google first because basically you can get in for free,” said one IT administrator familiar with both Google Workspace and Microsoft Teams, who declined to be identified. “Google is super easy too compared to Microsoft. I mean, have you ever created a Gmail account? How easy is that.”

“When you go to Outlook to set up an account, you got to jump through a lot of hoops. One of the things Microsoft does is you have a single unified account that is everything: it’s email, it’s Xbox, etc. So you have this standardization across every product they have and it raises the bar of the level of difficulty,” said the IT administrator. “I can get a Gmail account in a minute.”

Additionally, he mentioned that Microsoft Teams has been hit with a slew of major technical issues and outages this year, which could further help Google Workspace gain better market traction with SMBs. “I think it’s the same issue Microsoft’s had with a lot of their products. It’s become really big and they’re having a problem with DevOps,” he said.

Google also unveiled today a new paid solution for individuals’ users who want more from Workspace, although Google didn’t provide a cost yet. Customers of this new Workspace solution will get access to “premium capabilities, including smart booking services, professional video meetings and personalized email marketing, with much more on the way,” said Google.

The global COVID-19 pandemic created a surge in cloud collaboration, productivity and unified collaboration solutions from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Zoom and Cisco to enable the new remote workforces.

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