Amazon Web Services (AWS) made big strides in 2015. The company’s head of channels and alliances A/NZ, Stefan Jansen, sat down with ARN to discuss plans for the year ahead.
He began by giving an outline of the partner network and where the state of play at the end of 2015.
“We have a partner program, called the Amazon Partner Network (APN) that consists of two types of partners. Technology partners, which are independent software vendors (ISVs), and consulting partners which are the system integrators and managed service providers,” Jansen explained.
“We have added more than 50 per cent to that ecosystem in one year. With that comes more demand from the channel and a very diverse channel for us to respond to.
“We are a very customer obsessed company so the way we respond through the channel is very much from the customer first objective and as such, we are continually looking for ways to improve the way we engage our partners. One of the ways we do that is by encouraging our partners to be more solution centric.
“We are now reaching the point that customers are demanding more specialised skill sets around security or Big Data. What that also means is that partners who have grown with us and new partners coming in, we really encourage them to find their specialisation," he said.
Jansen explained specialisation means partners can drive more solutions to market.
“To deliver that to the customer, it is that partnering with partners that becomes critical. We take that as a responsibility to bring those areas closer together,” he added.
This method became apparent at this year’s re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. In years past, there were separate sections for technology and consulting partners. This year, these merged to encourage the two sides of the AWS partner ecosystem to interact.
“The feedback from our SIs who actively support our customers in enterprise and in government is to help us remove those barriers from the software vendors so we can easily deploy those applications."
Partner programs and compensation
Jansen said the company’s most successful partners were the ones which innovate and add value on top of the platform.
“It is a ratio of value added services on the platform. Those partners that have been doing that for several years are the most successful,” he said.
“Whether you are in the consulting domain or in the advisory domain, partners must continue to innovate with new services that are meaningful to the customer.
“I think that brings a level of specialisation, value add so, return for the partner.
“In that context the application layer becomes more critical. It is not just about providing SaaS, it becomes more about removing those barriers to procuring software where you know you have over 2300 applications you can buy in the AWS Marketplace, instantly deploy them and pay for them in the same nature as they pay for with Cloud,” he said.
According to Jansen, the company’s larger systems integrator partners and MSPs have been asking AWS to make this more accessible and added that the company was investing heavily in enabling its ISVs to align products so they can be procured and delivered in much more agile ways.
“We are trying to bring our partner communities much closer together, you will see us showcasing those partners who do well and making sure they get the level of visibility to our customers,” he added.
“We see a huge demand from enterprise customers who have moved well beyond experimentation, development and testing, to either wanting to get rid of their entire datacentre, as well as customers who are moving significant and material workloads to Cloud.
“In doing that, there is tooling required, so it can be aligned and consumed in such a way. We have those programs now on competencies that allow partners to demonstrate that they have that proven capability. For the channel that can be very important.”
Launched in April 2015, the AWS MSP partner program will be a big focus for the company as it looks to expand that part of the partner network locally beyond its three current members Bulletproof, Melbourne IT and Datacom.
Jansen explained that in order to become an AWS certified MSP, there are around 75 controls that an organisation would need to go through. He said this was a way of protecting the reputation of the AWS solution stack and ensuring that once AWS backs a partner, they are able to deliver on the promise of the AWS Cloud.
“It is a significant investment by the partner,” he explained.
“But that is what the customer is asking for. We are adding more functionality, but we are mindful that it needs to be meaningful to the end customer as well. As we mature, you will see more coming and also more focus in programs to that effect.”
How it works for the little guy
When asked if the program was suited to smaller MSPs, Jansen stressed the egalitarian nature of the partner network.
“We have a very open partnering model,” he said.
“You can sign up as a registered partner and have access to benefits like free tier and training at zero cost. At the same time, to constantly raise the bar of the quality of partners, we are also putting in an increased number of requirements for partners that want to be seen as an organisation that can play at the premier level.
“We only have two premium partners in Australia, Melbourne IT and Bulletproof that are part of the 45 at global level. We are making it easy for partners to join and we are giving them more benefits and as you mature and want to receive more benefits, there are requirements with that as well.
“The investments we have been making locally are in a more open platform for training and community sharing. User groups, we are rolling out our quarterly roadshows, we are spending much more time in the field engaging partners,” he added.