AWS Channel Chief: Pandemic Underscores Limits Of Companies’ Data Centers, Value Of Cloud Computing

‘We think migrations and modernization by these large enterprises or even small companies are going to become an important trend in 2021,’ Doug Yeum, AWS’ worldwide channel and alliances head, says during The Channel Company’s Best of Breed Virtual Event Series.

The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the limitations of companies running their entire IT operations on premises and forced them to more quickly move to the public cloud, according to Amazon Web Services channel chief Doug Yeum, and it’s a trend that he expects will continue this year.

“We’re seeing companies take a very intentional approach to doing data center migrations or data center exits,” Yeum said during CRN owner The Channel Co.’s Best of Breed Virtual Event Series on Wednesday. “Not having their employees being able to go freely into data centers to work on whatever they need to do with their servers…those things are all very difficult to do right now. Because of that, they’re seeing the value of cloud computing. We think migrations and modernization by these large enterprises or even small companies are going to become an important trend in 2021.”

The pandemic has been a “forcing function” for many companies to digitally transform their businesses, according to Yeum, AWS’ worldwide channel and alliances head since July 2019. As companies are accelerating their cloud adoption, important shifts enabled by the cloud – including remote work and learning, process automation, smart factories and artificial intelligence-enabled customer experiences -- are creating new opportunities for partners to help.

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“There is a huge opportunity for partners to grow their businesses, especially the ones who have made early investments into AWS and working with AWS to leverage our platform, our programs and our people to differentiate their value proposition to their customers,” Yeum said during a Q&A session with CRN news editor Steve Burke.

He cited Tokyo-based NEC and France’s Orange Business Services as being among systems integrators (SIs) that are “betting bigger” with AWS.

“Those companies are the ones that we’re going to spend more time making sure that they’re better prepared for the future,” Yeum said. “These companies have a long history of customer relationships, or they have deep industry experience, or they have unique offers. And we want to make sure that they leverage that in combination with AWS’ strengths to offer a better value for their customers. We’re going to be working very closely with partners -- SI partners, MSPs (managed service providers), the VARs (valued-added resellers), distributors, as well as all the ISVs (independent software vendors). There’s so much more that we have to be doing in 2021, and I just think the opportunity is huge for everyone right now.”

Getting Into The AWS Game

It’s not to late for companies to join the AWS Partner Network (APN), but speed matters, according to Yeum. Partners who haven’t been aggressively investing in the cloud because they were trying to determine how quickly they needed to become cloud first must move faster, he said.

AWS has been adding 50 new partners per day to its APN, the company disclosed at its re:Invent 2020 conference in December.

“The total number of partners that we added last year in 2020 was more than any other previous year, so that just goes to show sort of the demand that we’re seeing from partners to engage with AWS,” Yeum said. ‘We’re really happy about that, and we continue to add additional resources and additional programs and benefits to help all those partners who want to work with us.”

The biggest opportunity for partners is helping companies migrate and modernize their application portfolios. Amazon Connect, AWS’ contact center-as-a-service solution introduced in 2017, along with AWS’ artificial intelligence and machine learning offerings (AI/ML) also are “growing like crazy.”

“A lot of the services that we launch, we launch them because customers told us that they needed it, and so there’s already that latent demand,” Yeum said.

The best AWS partners realize that and move quickly to build practices or even new companies around the emerging technologies.

“If you do it right, you can be another VoiceFoundry that is able to successfully exit the business after (three) years of being in business,” Yeum said.

Tulsa, Okla.-based VoiceFoundry launched alongside the release of Amazon Connect and based its business around the technology. Denver’s TTEC Holdings purchased the AWS Advanced Consulting Partner last year for undisclosed terms.

AWS has been investing heavily in AI/ML the last few years, and its new industrial use offerings unveiled at re:Invent 2020 included AWS Panorama Appliance, which enables computer vision applications that use ML to be built without purchasing special cameras. It also announced Amazon Lookout for Equipment, which uses industrial data from customers’ equipment to detect potential failures so they can take actions before a breakdown to avoid unplanned downtime; and Amazon Monitron, an end-to-end system that detects abnormal behavior in industrial machinery and allows customers to implement predictive maintenance to reduce unplanned downtime.

“There are a lot of SI companies who have longstanding relationships with customers in manufacturing,” Yeum said. “They have industry experience, they have people who have done a lot of projects around it. But now if you’re able to take some of these new services that we provided as sort of building blocks, you can actually build a new IP-based solution or a unique offering combining their experience with our services. That allows our partners to move faster and deliver a differentiated value for their customers.”

AWS Outposts is another big opportunity for partners, according to Yeum. The hybrid cloud offering extends AWS’ cloud infrastructure, services, APIs and tools into customers’ on-premises data centers or colocation sites for the first time with its compute-and-storage server racks outfitted with AWS-designed hardware.

“We work very closely with a lot of our ISV partners to have their solutions validated and to work properly on Outposts, and it’s becoming a new channel for ISV partners,” Yeum said. “There’s so many different things that we’re launching that creates new innovation opportunities for our partners and through that innovation, we believe our partners will be able to grow their businesses faster.”

AWS Marketplace Becoming A ‘Multiplier’ For Partners

In December, AWS added the ability for consulting partners, ISVs and MSPs to offer their professional services on AWS Marketplace, its digital catalog that until then had offered only independent software vendor offerings that run on its cloud. Now AWS partners can offer to help customers with implementing, supporting and managing that software.

“AWS Marketplace is such an important channel for our partners now,” Yeum said. “We’re seeing Marketplace becoming a huge, I would say, multiplier for many of our partners.”

AWS had been seeing more and more partners collaborating to serve a single customer, including ISVs working closely with SI partners to take the ISVs’ solutions to their joint customers.

“SI partners were doing a lot of the work around making sure that the solution is implemented in the right way for the customer,” Yeum said. “We asked ourselves, what can we do to facilitate that partner-to-partner collaboration and make sure that collaboration is easy for both partners. By being able to offer professional services along with the ISV solution on Marketplace, the customers can now procure that together in one bundle. It makes it easier for the customers, but it also allows the SI partners to have another way to work closely with ISV partners, so they can continue to accelerate the collaboration together. We think this is going to have a huge impact on both the SI partners’ business, as well as the ISV partners’ business.”

Oracle Migration Opportunities

The opportunity that Oracle database migrations present for AWS partners is “humongous,” Yeum told Burke.

“The last time we had a number, it was close to over 100,000 databases that have migrated to AWS using some of the database migration tools that we offer,” Yeum said. “A lot of that happens to be Oracle databases, because our customers want to be able to move from that expensive commercial database into something like…(Amazon) Aurora, which is one of the fastest growing services that we’ve ever had on our platform.”

Launched in 2014, Amazon Aurora is a MySQL and PostgreSQL-compatible relational database built for the cloud. Customers using Aurora include Airbnb, AstraZeneca, BP, Capital One, Fannie Mae, Petco, Verizon and Volkswagen.

AWS hired former Oracle senior vice president Rich Geraffo last year as vice president of Americas sales in what partners called a bid to grab database market share from its longtime rival.

SolarWinds Attack

AWS was not affected by the alleged Russian-led breach of SolarWinds and thousands of its customers that came to light in December and also ensnared rival Microsoft, according to Yeum, who said AWS doesn’t use SolarWinds software.

“Security has been and will be our No. 1 priority at AWS,” Yeum said. “It is something that (CEO Andy Jassy) spends a lot of time looking at, something that I spend a lot of time looking at with our partners. And I actually think that our partners can play a really important role in helping customers be more secure on AWS.”

The cloud provider introduced its AWS Well-Architected Partner Program in late 2018 to help partners establish good architectural habits, eliminate risk and respond faster to changes that affect designs, applications and workloads running on AWS.

“One of the key pillars of that well-architected framework is around security,” Yeum said. “Our SI partners are working with customers every day looking at the security posture and the compliance posture, leveraging the well-architected framework. We will continue to work very closely with our SI partners and our ISV partners to make sure that what they’re offering their customers is well-architected for security.”

The Increasing Diversity Of AWS Partners

As AWS continues to grow and add partners, it’s increasingly seeing a more diverse mix that includes digital agencies.

“Digital agencies weren’t what we called the typical AWS SI or consulting partner a few years ago,” Yeum said. “But now, these digital agencies -- because of all the work that they’re doing with their customers that involve the use of AWS and cloud -- they’re saying, ‘Hey, as a digital agency, we’ve got to work closely together.’ So they’re wanting to engage with us.”

AWS also is working more with original equipment manufacturers and hardware distributors as it launches new solutions such as AWS Monitron or other AI/ML services that are embedded into hardware.

“The number of the different types of partners will continue to increase over time, and we have to make sure that we provide the right tailored experience,” Yeum said. “One thing that we will continue to focus on is making sure that we listen to the different groups of partners and figure out what they need to move fast, grow faster, differentiate, and we’ll come out with the right programs to do that.”

AWS launched the new ISV Partner Path this month to make it easier for ISVs to build, market and sell their solutions on the AWS cloud – a program that’s also open to AWS Consulting Partners.

“That’s one example where we’re listening to our ISV partners and coming up with a partner path that makes sense for them,” Yeum said. “We could potentially see other partner paths for different types of partners in the future.”