Point of View

Cloud native seekers can still expect innovation @ scale from AWS

August 12, 2021

As enterprise interest in cloud computing continues its upswing, Amazon Web Services (AWS) will likely remain on the shortlist for where companies move their applications, data, and workloads. However, given hosting choices, application platforms, and domain-centric solutions, CIOs will be seeking advice from services and consulting partners for insights. Because of this, AWS and its competitors are doing their best to influence decisions through partner programs. Therefore, as executives invest in application modernization, workload migration, and delivering cloud-based experiences, it’s worth understanding how AWS functions from the point of view of a services provider partner.

AWS continues to be an appealing hyperscale partner to services providers

With global services integrators (GSIs), Amazon Web Services remains a favored public cloud platform and hyperscaler. We attribute this sentiment to the vendor’s brand awareness, market demand, and partner program. CIOs should leverage their services providers’ relationship with AWS to improve their AWS investments and identify where the GSI can bring additional domain, architectural, technical specializations, and talent.

Through interviews with two dozen GSIs as part of our HFS Top 10: Hyperscaler Cloud Service Providers 2021 study, we learned AWS’ partner structure continues to be less hierarchical than its competitors’ typical arrangements, historically requiring fewer points of contact for each engagement, meanwhile growing the adoption of its cloud solutions substantially. This growth is fueled by AWS focusing on making it easy for enterprises and services providers to access solutions that drive measurable outcomes. Reducing commercial friction drives partner loyalty and makes it easier for the end customer to justify the financial investment for its solutions.

As the cloud market matured, AWS built a robust partnership across large enterprises, small and medium businesses (SMBs), independent software vendors (ISVs), and startups. As a pioneer, AWS set the cadence for talent requirements and skill development. Simultaneously, it advanced its cloud service portfolio, resulting in competitors mimicking many of its programs. From a CIO’s perspective, this is a benefit, as knowledge and skills team members and clients gain from working with AWS are often transferable to other solutions.

Consider AWS for comprehensive, secure, and scalable cloud services requirements

Our cloud study found more than half of services providers’ clients use AWS, and GSIs generate revenue primarily from cloud services related to AWS. In addition, the majority of services providers said that they had more certified professionals for AWS than other public cloud providers. Capturing the lion’s share of certified professionals has long been a key metric for any partner program as the momentum for competitors to recapture talent is both expensive and time consuming.

To remain a leader, AWS employs a very tactical approach. From the beginning, it developed a deep and effective partner ecosystem to penetrate the market and take its cloud offering to clients. It focused its program to encourage partners to invest in educating cloud professionals to support its cloud native, cloud platform, and other cloud migration services offerings. AWS focused on providing clarity on products, services, partner tiers, targets, pricing, joint go-to-market, market development funds, and co-innovation approaches to build loyalty with services providers. These elements help AWS remain a leading player in almost all services providers’ cloud business practices.

As CIOs build solutions in the cloud using containers, Kubernetes, and cloud databases, AWS’ investment in training partners allows it to lead the way with solutions like Fargate (serverless), EKS (orchestration), Lambda (code as a service), and SageMaker (AI and machine language). With its extensive ecosystem of available apps, extensions, and service tools, CIOs find it more important than ever to have a partner supporting the AWS relationship to assess, implement, migrate, develop, sustain, and govern investments.

AWS hasn’t gone without growing pains for the partner ecosystem and has likely caused a bit of confusion with end customers

While cloud vendors’ platforms, cloud offerings, and capabilities are increasing, their differentiating qualities among hyperscalers are blurring. One of AWS’ critical traits is having fewer account management layers. Until recently, many AWS partners only had touchpoints with three vendor representatives: Partner Development Managers (from the services provider side), AWS Account Managers, and Client Solution Architects (handling the client partner account). However, AWS recently added Partner Success Managers, which GSIs’ partners also welcomed.

“Fewer points of contact combined with a deep partner ecosystem provide hassle-free connections between AWS and SIs [Systems Integrators], a critical and valuable differentiator. In comparison, Microsoft Azure teams often have many layers and people to interact with, making the decision-making process potentially more complex and time consuming.”
— Global Services Integrator, AWS Lead

Recent success and growing competition have led to AWS adding a few more layers to its top-tier partners for larger migration projects, including a Professional Services Team Leader, a Migration Team Leader (either an SAP or data specialist, depending on the project), and a Professional Services Manager at AWS. These new positions are in addition to the original structure. While adding representatives to each department can help identify market and technology gaps, it may also be adding stress to relationships.

The newly added layers mean services providers might need to navigate multiple power centers to understand who the main power broker is in their Amazon relationship. AWS must maintain a balanced approach to account management, a key differentiator, to avoid any complications. Else, the adage of “too many seagulls after the same french fry” could lead to a drop in both loyalty and satisfaction with AWS from its partners and customers.

The Bottom Line: AWS developed a go-to-market model focused on nurturing partner loyalty and investment with product capabilities, talent development, and an ecosystem that facilitates both enterprises and services providers adopting cloud-native-based solutions at scale.

CIOs seeking a mature cloud services solution will continue to see AWS as a leading option for composing, consuming, and curating their cloud-based solutions. Over the years, AWS continues to evolve its cloud services, invest in certified resources, and create a partner ecosystem focused on ease of adoption. As AWS expands its geographic reach, security, and platform capabilities, customers will continue to see added business benefits.

CIOs can be assured that AWS will continue to invest in relationships with their services partners to ensure they can communicate how enterprise clients can effectively adopt the latest technologies, solutions, and vertical offerings. Finally, as more workloads and business processes move to the public cloud, partners may play a significant role in influencing pricing models with hyperscalers—a trend we already see gaining more headlines as cloud costs become a growing focal point for business leaders.

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