AWS Channel Chief: New AWS Competencies Will Help Channel Partners Stand Out, Meet Customer Demand

Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced to its partners on Tuesday several professional competencies designed to boost a cloud channel that's increasingly reliant on targeted market expertise and specialized technological skills.

During the first major keynote of the AWS re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, AWS channel chief Terry Wise told partners that customers are increasingly insisting – often directly in RFPs – —that the solution providers they hire carry more comprehensive professional certifications.

That demand has motivated Amazon to make a greater investment in its partners—both by helping them train their engineers faster and giving them advanced tools to automate more functionality, Wise said.

[Related: RightScale Compares Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure And Google Cloud Pricing]

Sponsored post

The partners who "spent the last decade working with us to build the cloud computing market" stand to benefit from a wave of digital transformation, partly driven by a market increasingly characterized by volatility, Wise said, citing interest rates, energy prices, an unpredicted election outcome in the U.S., as well as the U.K.'s vote to leave the European Union.

In that chaotic environment, "the winners are going to be those companies that can be agile and move quickly and innovate quickly," Wise said.

Partners need to have the right foundations in place to enable innovation, and the ingredients are managed services, migration services, DevOps, software solutions, security and storage, Wise told attendees.

To that end, AWS has created several new AWS Competencies addressing the Internet-of-Things, public sector and financial services engagements, and the upcoming VMware on AWS hybrid cloud solution.

Amazon's ecosystem added more than 10,000 partners since the last time it held its annual conference. Partner-driven engagements are growing faster than the overall business, and the largest partners are growing the fastest – Premier Tier partners in the last year increased revenue four times faster than Advanced Tier partners, Wise said.

Managed services providers grew by more than 130 percent; consulting partners by more than 110 percent.

"The vast majority of the Fortune 500 are using one of you in this room, our partners," Wise said. There's "tremendous growth in the enterprise space led by partners."

Much of that market opportunity is coming from public sector, he said, adding the first thing enterprise and public sector customers are looking for is a solution provider that can help them execute a rapid migration to the cloud.

In the last year-and-a-half, the number of partner-led migrations has increased 16-fold, and the value of those projects has doubled in each of the last two years, according to Wise.

And "customers who choose a partner for migration typically turn to that same partner to handle managed services," Wise told attendees.

Wise announced the launch of the AWS Public Sector Partner Program—an imprimatur for partners to work with government, non-profit and education customers. Over 400 current partners already qualify, he said.

Another update to the Amazon Partner Network is an integrated program with VMware to certify partners that will be implementing the VMware Cloud for AWS—a strategic alliance between the largest public and private cloud providers.

There is a "large, rich ecosystems of partners," Wise said, who support both technologies, and those solution providers can register their interest in the program right now on the AWS partner portal.

Amazon also formally launched on Tuesday an IoT competency that it had previously unveiled to its ecosystem, and introduced a competency for partners serving the financial services industry.

Another new program update was the AWS Service Delivery Program, recognizing more than 150 partners who specialize in implementing specific AWS platforms, like Lambda or Redshift.

AWS also reached across the company to Amazon's Alexa division, creating a program for partners to deliver services around the personal assistant that powers the Amazon Echo home appliance.

Amazon's customers and partners have expressed a "deep desire to integrate Alexa and voice solutions with other products and solutions," Wise said.

The AWS Alexa Partner program will enable third-party developers and solution providers to leverage the underlying capabilities of Alexa's artificial intelligence platform in creating unique enterprise solutions.

Tolga Tarhan, founder and CTO of Sturdy Networks, an AWS partner based in Irvine, Calif., told CRN the leading cloud provider continues to help partners with proven experience in key technologies and verticals to differentiate their practices.

"That enables customers to select the best partner, and gives partners a way to stand out," Tarhan told CRN. "We find great value in the competencies, and are excited that AWS continues to invest in these programs."

Sturdy has been working on IoT applications since before the buzzword existed, Tarhan said, and the company offers an IoT portfolio that spans the stack, from hardware and software engineering to cloud and managed services.

Being recognized by AWS, through the new IoT competency, as a consulting partner and systems integrator in that space is exciting for the company, he said.

But what's even more interesting, Tarhan told CRN, is the overlap between this new IoT competency and the existing health care competency.

"These two, taken together, means that we can design, build, and manage health care focused IoT applications," he said. "A huge area of growth."

Mike Clayville, AWS vice president of worldwide commercial sales, told solution providers the best way to partner with AWS is to focus on solving customer problems.

"We're able to solve customer problems much better with the competency partners in the room here and around the world," Clayville said. "We're able to deliver much better business outcomes because of your solutions and your services."