Image by: XiXinXing, ©2018 Getty Images

OpenText’s cloud strategy has had a busy year, with perhaps the most notable milestone exhibited by the unveiling of their new software-as-a-service (SaaS) cloud platform OT2. Now, to close out the year, OpenText has announced a partnership with Google Cloud, one of the three major public cloud players.

With this partnership, OpenText builds on their “run anywhere” approach, which allows their full enterprise information management suite to run on popular public cloud infrastructures. In July, OpenText CEO Mark Barrenechea hinted at plans to partner with Google, a key cloud service provider noticeably absent from their partner ecosystem. OpenText’s collaboration with Google to optimize their applications specifically for the Google Cloud Platform marks the first major step in this program.

“Google is a fantastic company, and we know that many of our customers are working with Google today,” said Stephen Ludlow, Vice President of Product Marketing at OpenText. “Before this announcement, we were not working with Google directly, and we believe this is the perfect opportunity to partner with Google for the first time.”

OpenText and Google also announced plans to integrate Google Analytics and G Suite as part of the partnership. For the Google cloud business, this alliance could also help bolster their competitive position against Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Google last pegged their annual cloud revenue at four billion dollars, but this includes their popular productivity suite G Suite as well. In just their second quarter of 2018, AWS reported $6.11 billion in cloud revenue, estimating they expect to double their cloud revenue to $42 billion by 2020.

However, Google launched their SaaS partner program in July, which offers these partners access to Google's engineering team to optimize workloads and established customer base through their marketplace, and now has over 100 new partners. Then in November, Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene was replaced with former Oracle executive Thomas Kurian, who brings a wealth of SaaS experience to the table. With Google’s increasing focus to bring SaaS applications to its cloud platform, this latest partnership with OpenText certainly has interesting dimensions for growth.

OpenText already has existing integrations with both AWS and Microsoft Azure. We will have to see if these current partnerships will expand to mirror the work with the Google Cloud Platform to deploy flexible and hybrid cloud models.

It’s clear that many organizations are sticking to their private cloud environments, giving rise to the birth of virtual private clouds within the public cloud infrastructure. This allows organizations to take advantage of the scalability, reliability, and the cost-effective benefits of the cloud while delivering the security and control with an isolated set of resources separate from other tenants of the cloud.

This hybrid cloud model seems to be the next frontier for most of the public cloud players, evidenced by Amazon’s partnership with both VMWare and Cisco, Microsoft’s long-standing hybrid cloud investments with Azure Stack, and Google’s recent collaboration with the Cisco Kubernetes platform (Kubernetes, originally designed by Google, is an open source solution to develop and orchestrate containerized applications).

Mr. Ludlow tells us that OpenText’s strategy “is to support our customers on their journey to the cloud—whatever that path looks like. The partnership with Google is a major step to help us do that.”

As of late, we’ve seen OpenText increasingly expand their cloud footprint and introduce new SaaS business models. They seem determined to shed their “legacy” roots, but some still point to the proprietary nature of their platform, requiring users to migrate all their content to OpenText repositories. Nonetheless, OpenText retained their leadership position in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms, showing the most organic growth among their competitors (though Gartner reports this was mainly due to their large set of acquisitions).

However, the modern value proposition of content services lies in the ability to consume and share services when and where you need it. Recently, OpenText has indicated that their cloud solution OT2 will be leveraged to bridge this gap between their enterprise information management services and their partners and customers, enabling them to develop new applications and solutions on their own. Customer communications management (CCM) consultant Kaspar Roos points to OT2 as a prime example of integration platform as a service (iPaaS). iPaaS are cloud services that connect different applications across many different environments (i.e., on-premises, public cloud, between clouds, and SaaS).

IDC Research Vice President Holly Muscolino observes that “OT2 will begin to bring SaaS into the product mix for the large customer base running OpenText’s on-premise/managed hosted solutions. It will also serve as the foundation for newborn SaaS applications that OpenText develops in the future.”

"Its evolutionary approach should give its customers a graceful path to the cloud, enabling them to derive new value from their existing investments without disruption,” concludes Ms. Muscolino.

Just last month, OpenText announced three new applications for OT2 focused on the legal and life sciences sectors and to support SAP’s popular talent management platform. In their latest release, OpenText continues to display their commitment to extending customer investments in enterprise content management—a strategy pointed at moving their on-premises customer base toward their new cloud and SaaS business models.

This is underlined by their extensive support for SAP applications (through both OT2 and the partnership with Google Cloud) and their Extended ECM offering for Microsoft Office 365, announcing an integration for Microsoft Teams and an add-in for Office 365 Outlook.

Roughly a year ago, OpenText told DOCUMENT Strategy that the future of ECM was in the cloud. Today, the path to that future seems a lot clearer for OpenText.

Allison Lloyd serves as the Editor of DOCUMENT Strategy Media. She delivers thought leadership on strategic and plan-based solutions for managing the entire document, communication, and information process. Follow her on Twitter @AllisonYLloyd.