Looking to step up competition against Microsoft in the enterprise segment, Google is launching a reseller program to let technology providers sell and support its cloud based Google Apps Premier Edition productivity suite to other business. This could be taken either as a sign that the cloud computing ecosystem is maturing in the enterprise, or could simply mean that the search giant hasn’t garnered the paying customers it wanted. Either way, the timing seems right for the initiative, with resellers looking for new opportunities amid a troubled economy.

Here’s how the program works: Google will offer the $50 per user, per year Apps Premier licenses at a 20 percent discount to resellers, and provide training, support and tools for sales and marketing. The resellers will then be able to bundle their own complementary IT services with the sale of the suite to generate additional profits, thus getting the revenue opportunity while Google gets the market share.

Google is now accepting applications from resellers who want into the program, which will formerly launch in March. The company claims that more than a million businesses are already using Google Apps and that an additional 3,000 are signing up daily – quite a respectable figure considering the known objections to software-as-a-service products, such as occasional performance and availability issues and security concerns.