AWS Global Services Head Talks GenAI In 2024, Marketplace And ‘Critical’ Partner Strategy

Matt Garman, AWS’ chief of sales, marketing and global services, talks to CRN about the AWS partner vision, generative AI opportunities in 2024 and its AWS Marketplace push.

AWS’ worldwide sales and services leader Matt Garman is bullish about partners’ future in generative AI, the AWS Marketplace and driving cloud adoption in 2024 thanks to artificial intelligence.

“The potential going into 2024 is generative AI is going to accelerate customers’ move to the cloud,” Garman, senior vice president of AWS sales, marketing and global services at Amazon, told CRN. “We’re still in the early stages of cloud adoption and growth, and there is way more potential ahead of us than behind us.”

The 17-year veteran AWS executive, who reports directly to CEO Adam Selipsky, said AWS plans to continue to launch new generative AI (GenAI) solutions at both AWS Re:Invent 2023 and throughout next year.

“There’s a number of GenAI announcements that’ll be coming out [at Re:Invent]. I expect that they’ll just continue to roll out through next year and going forward,” said Garman, who also helps lead AWS channel strategy.

[Related: Microsoft Vs. Google Vs. AWS: Q3 2023 Cloud Earnings Face-Off]

Garman has been a critical part of AWS growth and partner strategy for more than a decade, first joining AWS when it was founded in 2006—tasked with the development of Amazon EC2. He was later promoted to director and general manager of EC2 and then was named vice president of AWS Compute Services in 2013.

In an interview with CRN ahead of AWS Re:Invent 2023 in Las Vegas, Garman discussed AWS’ partner strategy for GenAI, the AWS Marketplace being a “positive flywheel” for the channel and AWS being open to partnering with anyone.

“We sell Microsoft software. We sell Oracle software. We sell VMware services. Increasingly, you see others kind of coming around to that point of view,” Garman said. “We’re absolutely open and willing to and excited about leaning in to partnering with anybody who wants to partner with us.”

Here’s what every AWS partner should know about AWS partner strategy, its GenAI future and why solution providers should pick AWS versus the competition.

Why should partners pick AWS versus Microsoft and Google Cloud?

There’s a couple of things. One is: there’s no substitute for having the best technology and the widest set of services. That does go a long way. We do have the best technical capabilities and the best building blocks to build on top of, as well as the largest customer set. So that is a great place to start.

Then, when partners really started to work with us, they see that we leani n together and are focused on helping them really build a business. It’s not just lip service. It’s not just throwing cash at them and then turning away. We view it as a true partnership.

So we really look at, ‘How do we go together? How do we drive customer pipeline together? How do we build business together?’ If we think about [AWS] Marketplace, four companies who have sold over a $1 billion dollars through marketplace as ISVs. So it’s just proof that it’s not just lip service.

We’re really helping people build really large businesses on top of us. Customers and partners appreciate that working together on the ground. It’s ‘How do you drive channel together? How do you have that customer focus where you go deliver the best thing for customers, and the business follows that.’

That has been our philosophy for the last 17 years and will continue to be our philosophy. We don’t view it as a transactional channel. We view it as a true partnership for us to jointly go build businesses together.

Click through to read the rest of CRN’s interview with AWS’ Matt Garman.

What should AWS partners be excited about and place their bets on in 2024?

We’re still in the early stages of cloud adoption and growth, and there is way more potential ahead of us than behind us. So the potential going into 2024 is, generative AI is going to accelerate customers move to the cloud.

When we think about, how do customers take advantage of Gen AI? Really, customers can’t take advantage of GenAI to the full extent if their data is not organized and really in a cloud format. You see this time and again: if your data is locked on-prem in proprietary systems, it’s really hard to actually leverage the power of AI to read across a bunch of different data sources, make interesting inferences, and come up with useful wins for your company.

That means for customers that have their data in the cloud and organized in a data lake and s3 or something like that, they’re ready to go off and running. They need help to figure out how they can take advantage of GenAI. The rest of the world, there’s still a ton of people who have that data locked on prem, they’re desperate for partners to help them migrate faster, and how do they get that data in [Amazon] S3? How do they get it in [AWS] Security Lake? How do they get it in a format that they can actually take advantage of some of these generative AI capabilities that they see now?

From a partner point of view, that is an enormous opportunity to jump in and help customers move faster or they’re going to be left behind.

It’s not just like, ‘Oh, it’s probably a good thing for me to move quickly and get my data into the cloud and get it organized.’ Customers need help doing that. It’s almost a business imperative or they’re not going to be able to take advantage of some of these new technologies that are coming out.

Where do partners play in GenAI? What’s your advice for AWS partners who want to dive deeper with AWS here?

As we think about generative AI capabilities, we took a partner-centric approach from the very beginning to making sure that all of the foundational models are available for customers to use through Bedrock.

So we didn’t just focus on our own models or models from one provider, we said ‘We want all models available.’ So we have models from Anthropic, Cohere, Stability AI, Meta, AI21 [Labs], etc., as well as first party models.

Partners help around how customers can get benefit from that. They can dive into financial services use case or risk use case and say, ‘This is how you apply generative AI, not just as a chatbot on your website, but how you combine all of these things to get better risk analysis.’ Or, ‘Here’s how to get better productivity from your internal employees.’

Accenture, Deloitte and the largest GSI [global system integrators] in the world are building AWS-focused GenAI practices to help customers exactly solve those problems.

Because customers really do need that consultative expertise to figure out how they can actually get the most value from the technology applied to their deep business application. So it really is connecting those dots.

There’s a great opportunity for new partners as well as existing partner ecosystem to build up new practices focused on helping customers connect some of those dots around, ‘How can I get value quickly? How can I apply this in something that delivers real value to my business? How can I apply it to something that’s potentially a new product offering from my own end customers?’ Partners have a great opportunity to help them accelerate what they can do there.

With the boom in AI in 2023, do you think AWS has become more open to partnering with competitors?

We have always taken the approach that, ‘I want anybody to be able to run anything they want inside of AWS.’ We’ve always taken that path.

I can’t think of a single time where we’ve ever said, ‘I don’t want to partner with someone.’ Right? We’ve had a long history of partnering with people that the industry is like, ‘Wait, you would partner with them?’ Like VMware. There’s a lot of examples of that historically.

We’re incredibly open on that front. We sell Microsoft software. We sell Oracle software. We sell VMware services. Increasingly, you see others kind of coming around to that point of view.

Last year at Re:invent, you saw a really strong embrace of IBM. It’s not that we weren’t willing to do that before, it was just they’ve come around with a different strategy. We’re absolutely open and willing to and excited about leaning-in to partnering with anybody who wants to partner with us.

It’s got to make sense for customers. It’s not going to be blind partnering. But the technology landscape doesn’t really work if you don’t think about it that way. It’s too varied with the number of services and capabilities to not. … A lot of our partners have really great capabilities and we want to make sure that as many customers can use those on AWS as possible, and we’ll continue to do that.

Talk about AWS’ push for partners to put more offers on the AWS Marketplace?

We really view it as a positive flywheel. We think that our end customers like to procure things through that Marketplace. It gives them one pane of glass. It gets them one bill. From a procurement point of view, it makes everything much simpler.

We’ve built a lot of a really deep capabilities for partners to manage things like custom offers and custom pricing. From their perspective, they don’t have to deal with invoices. They can get time to cash faster for them. They have a channel that works really well for them.

Our customers can kind of include it in some of their commitments that they make to us and all of their financial constructs that they have with AWS. The partners can ride onto some of that wave, which is beneficial for the customers as well as the partners.

Our Marketplace team has added a ton of capabilities and features, and have really made it so that the partners can accelerate their business. It is an accelerant to the [partner] business: they get new business, they see it as a way to close renewal business faster and have bigger numbers.

There’s a Forrester study where partners who invested in the marketplace, saw over 200 percent ROI on that investment. They find that they can close deals 50 percent faster than they can on their own if it goes through Marketplace. A lot of times, it’s multiple-times larger deals than what they would have signed otherwise.

Matt, talk about AWS’ partner strategy now and in the future?

Partners are absolutely integral to how we think about supporting our customers. We view the whole partner ecosystem as a critical way for us to help customers really drive things like industry solutions, security, things like generative AI, which is obviously top of mind for many of the customers. Our partner ecosystem has done a really great job helping customers think about what’s possible in that space.

We want to make it as easy as possible for our joint end customers to be able to leverage our partners—whether that’s through Marketplace or having a great set of SIs or MSPs that can help customers leverage the value of the cloud. That is the way that we can reach scale.

A lot of our partner ecosystem are the ones that have that trusted relationship with customers to help them quickly get the value they want from the business. We’re tripling down on that strategy. That’s continues to be how we think about supporting customers.

If you think about the core of what AWS builds, we have a lot of the core computing, building blocks, services, data and ML capabilities that customers need. But as you get into industries, it’s really an explosion of different use cases that customers are focused on. And that’s where our partners can really dive in and help customers build the solutions that they need based on the cloud capabilities that we offer.

From an infrastructure point of view, we can cover the swath of what customers need to go construct almost any application they want in the cloud. But we need partners to be able to actually branch out and support financial services applications or media applications or healthcare applications around the world. We’re really leaning into many of those industry verticals where partners can help us really tailor the solutions to what the customers are looking for.