AWS Becomes 'Much More Partner-Friendly' As It Clears The Way For Solution Providers To More Easily Build A Business Around Its Cloud Services

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Amazon Web Services is sunsetting the term "reseller" in favor of "solution provider." That subtle signal was not lost on its channel partners at AWS re:Invent 2017 in Las Vegas this week. The world's largest cloud computing company is serious about its partner program. 

"In this last year, we've seen significant changes in how Amazon orients itself around partners," said Aaron Kamphuis, data analytics and IoT practice manager for Open Systems Technologies (OST). "The expectation now is, when AWS works with a business customer, they also work with partners. They've become much more partner-friendly."

Businesses aren't looking for resellers that only handle sales transactions. Instead, they want a partner that can add value to AWS services, Terry Wise, vice president of worldwide alliances, channels and ecosystem at AWS, told CRN.

"Our most successful partners are solution providers. The partners with a level of specialization and managed services focus -- it's what customers are asking for," Wise said.

[Related: As Amazon Approaches $1 Trillion Market Cap, Solution Providers Place Their Bets]

The newly-rebranded Amazon Channel Reseller Program, which Wise announced at re:Invent will be called the AWS Solution Provider Program in 2018. This change reflects the trend that more partners are offering an end-to-end solution for their customers, Wise explained.

"Frankly, we were kind of forcing our partners to choose one bucket or the other [consulting partner or reseller partner], which made sense eight years ago, but we needed to change that," he said.

In the early days of its cloud business, AWS followed the lead of its retail business. "Go to the website, sign up for an account, and configure the services you want. That's what the relationship looked like, and that has evolved a lot," OST's Kamphuis said.

AWS has changed how it engages with customers and how it brings sales opportunities to channel partners. The cloud giant has also bulked up its resources for the channel, building out a larger team that specifically works with partners, Kamphuis said.

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based OST got its start selling hardware, which it still maintains as a part of its product portfolio. But as its customers began pivoting to the cloud, the solution provider evolved. OST today is focused on professional services for its business customers.

Several years ago, moving to AWS was unheard of for some businesses, especially highly-regulated industries such as health care or finance. That has changed, too, according to said Marilyn Daly, vice president of marketing for Logicworks, a Premier Amazon consulting partner. "Now, it's table stakes. Companies want to know how they can leverage AWS," she said.

The steady flow of new services and improvements announced at re:Invent 2017, showed  Amazon's drive to make AWS is making it even easier for customers to adopt. But that doesn't mean that the cloud giant is stepping on partners' toes.


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