Andy Jassy Sees Partner Opportunities In AWS Outposts, AWS IQ

‘Over time, what we expect in terms of how we can partner with the partner ecosystem is multiple-fold,’ says AWS CEO Andy Jassy. ‘I think that our partner community is pretty excited about Outposts, both as a bridge as well as a way to allow them to sell more software.’


Embedded software and installations and maintenance are among the expected new channel partner opportunities for AWS Outposts, Amazon Web Services’ hybrid cloud offering that's set to launch.

The fully managed offering, which will come in two variants -- VMware Cloud on AWS Outposts and the AWS Native Outposts -- will extend AWS’ cloud infrastructure, services and operating models into customers’ on-premises data centers or colocation sites. It will include compute-and-storage data center racks built with AWS-designed hardware.

“Over time, what we expect in terms of how we can partner with the partner ecosystem is multiple-fold,” AWS CEO Andy Jassy told CRN in an exclusive interview at AWS headquarters in Seattle in October. “I think that our partner community is pretty excited about Outposts, both as a bridge as well as a way to allow them to sell more software.”

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AWS has many independent software vendor and software-as-a-service partners with customers that started on-premises and are in the process of migrating their work to the AWS cloud, Jassy said, and Outposts could serve as a bridge for those customers.

“They find Outposts attractive for them when they have customers who are currently on-premises where they're in a transition, and they either need to leave part of those workloads on-premises for a long period of time or just an interim period where they can use Outposts to do that bridging,” Jassy said. “So there's probably some incremental revenue opportunity, but it's certainly an important part of taking their customers on the journey.”

Outposts has generated a lot of interest, and AWS has fielded requests for additions, since it was announced at last year’s re:Invent conference, according to Jassy, who expects customers will want to use it in quick fashion.

“Over time, I think you can expect that we will find ways to bundle our strategic partners' software on Outposts, so that customers can order Outposts with these… partners' software already embedded…which will make it easier for them to use those products,” Jassy said.

While AWS technical personnel initially will handle installations and maintenance for AWS Outposts, partners eventually are expected to be dealt in on that business.

“Eventually, we expect to engage with partners to perform these functions as we refine our customer experience to the point where we are comfortable that partners can replicate it,” an AWS spokesperson said.

An Outpost Competency for AWS Partner Network members also is a possibility, according to Doug Yeum, AWS’ head of worldwide channels and alliances.

“We have to get the model right, but I think there's going to be a role that the partner has to play as we scale out that business and that service,” Yeum said. “And as part of that, we want to make sure we have the right partners who are delivering that.”

Slalom, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner based in Seattle, is one of the early launch partners for Outposts, and CEO Brad Jackson sees it as an important solution for organizations focused on maintaining hybrid environments.

“This is especially true throughout many public sector agencies around the world,” Jackson said.

Stephen Garden, CEO of cloud-native services company Onica, also sees partner opportunities in Outposts, especially among enterprise and public sector customers with a “lot of technical debt” and in need of modernization in the next wave of cloud adoption. They include Fortune 100 customers with very delicate systems that generate billions of dollars in revenue.

“They've made big investments in data centers that still have a significant amount of capacity,” said Garden, whose Santa Monica, Calif.-based company is an AWS Premier Consulting Partner and Managed Service Provider. “The word ‘hybrid’ was not really talked about much in the early phase of cloud, but we're starting to see the second wave of what we called ‘modern hybrid,’ where customers need to cloud-ready themselves, but don't necessarily move to the cloud immediately as part of that. They start leveraging some cloud-best practices in that hybrid fashion, while they eventually take a more transition approach.”


AWS in October debuted AWS IQ, a new service to help customers locate AWS-certified, third-party cloud experts for on-demand consultations and project-based work. Customers choose what services they need, write a description of their project on the AWS IQ console and then await direct responses from independent experts and AWS Partner Network consulting partners interested in taking on the work.

“We're effectively trying to make it easier for our customers who need help getting a workload up on AWS or getting started, but maybe don't know who to reach out to or can't afford very expensive engagements,” Jassy said. “They're starting to have access to a much larger number of AWS-certified experts.”

To pass AWS vetting, those experts are required to have at least one active associate, professional or specialty AWS Certification, complete an identity check, live in the United States and have U.S. banking and tax information.

Jassy sees AWS IQ as a great distribution vehicle for AWS partners, even as some worry that it will cut them out by directly connecting small and midsize business customers to contract workers -- perhaps furthering a gig economy for cloud services.

“My guess is there are smaller and mid-size consulting partners who will find it most useful, because they have less sales and distribution than the larger consulting partners,” Jassy said.

Jackson, of Slalom, sees AWS IQ as an opportunity for customers and partners to source experts to fill gaps.

“Likely not a great fit for larger partners, but I believe this was an important solution for AWS to create and could make a significant difference to emerging partners,” he said.