The Partner Bubble: Why An Outdated Channel View Is Hobbling AWS


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Amazon is missing out on a big chunk of the enterprise-class data center market largely because it has failed to look beyond the narrow confines of the born-in-the-cloud partners that have been built from the ground up to join forces with the Web services giant.

Amazon is stepping up its partnership with those born-in-the-cloud existing partners with its just-launched AWS Managed Service Program. The problem with the program is that it ignores the thousands and thousands of elite enterprise data center partners and MSPs that are driving the next-generation data center strategies at the vast majority of businesses of all sizes.

Ironically, Amazon declared with the launch of the program that it simply does not have enough partners in the ecosystem that really understand and can deliver cloud managed services. "We're really focused on the customer, and they're telling us they need more partners with AWS managed services capability," said Terry Wise, director of the AWS worldwide partner ecosystem, in an interview with CRN. "We need more partners that can deploy SAP effectively on AWS, and partners that know digital marketing and the Internet of Things. So it's really driven by the customer — that's why you're seeing us invest more."

[Related: The Final Cut: Moving Beyond The Managed Service Provider Model]

These kinds of partners are not hard to find; just ask SAP, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco or any number of other vendors with solid channel programs. Cisco launched its first managed services program nearly nine years ago. And if Amazon wants a view of just how powerful the Cisco model is, it should look no further than NWN, No. 81 on the CRN Solution Provider 500 list, which is besting telecom giants with Cisco cloud-based communications managed services offerings.

Amazon has not discovered companies like NWN because of its complete lack of understanding around the managed services/trusted adviser model that has been in place since the start of the 21st century. The company, in fact, seems to look at legacy solution providers as resellers — a view pulled right out of the late 20th century.

Amazon's antiquated channel stance is dooming its managed services program from being anything other than an add-on for born-in-the-cloud providers already working closely with the company. But its myopic view of the channel is not only affecting its partner strategy, it is preventing it from building the next-generation Web services that could power more business-class customers to move to the Amazon cloud.

No one has a deeper knowledge of the complexity of the legacy hardware and software environments of enterprise customers than today's solution providers. They know the pain points — practical and political — that are holding back cloud strategies.

Amazon has been built from the ground up as the swipe-your-credit-card Web services cloud provider. Customers looking for a trusted adviser should beware.

Amazon will allow you to plug into its cloud computing grid if — and only if — you are willing to play by its rules. In other words, you can have it any way you want it as long as it is the Amazon way.

The same rules apply to partners. That's too bad because a more modern view of the channel would benefit Amazon, the channel and customers.

BackTalk: Do you want to get an MSP monkey off your back? Let me know. Contact Steven Burke at sburke@thechannelcompany.com.

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