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COLUMN: Andy Jassy’s ‘Super Strategic’ Partner Bet

AWS CEO Andy Jassy is touting a “new generation” of systems integrations that have “embraced the cloud and invested very deeply.”

What are the cultural traits that define the best and brightest Amazon Web Services partners?

It’s a question worth asking, given AWS founder and CEO Andy Jassy’s candid conversation with CRN Senior Editor Donna Goodison on what distinguishes a successful AWS partner.

One of the key cultural traits of systems integrators that have been successful with AWS is they have “embraced the cloud and invested very deeply,” said Jassy.

Getting partners to make big investments ahead of the technology curve is clearly a big factor in the AWS Partner Network. By the way, that prerequisite does not exclude legacy systems integrators. In fact, Jassy singles out Accenture and Deloitte as two systems integrators that get it and are doing well with AWS.

Jassy, however, also references a “new generation” of systems integrators that are not worried about cannabilizing legacy business. Those partners have have “a big dedicated team that’s focused on the cloud and AWS, and they’re willing to pick up small projects at relatively low price points to do pilots for companies who are thinking about getting some experience in the cloud.”

One of these most successful AWS partners is Slalom, which is also a top partner for Microsoft, Google Cloud, and Tableau and has won many partner awards including Google Cloud Global Breakthrough Partner of the Year, Microsoft Power BI Partner of the Year and Dell Boomi North America Partner of the Year.

Slalom calls itself a “modern consulting firm focused on strategy, technology and business transformation.” It’s a vision—if executed—that is surely the foundation of any successful partner today in a technology market driven by business outcomes.

Slalom CEO Brad Jackson said AWS is Slalom’s No. 1 technology partnership among 300 vendors. A $1.8 billion company with 7,600 employees, Slalom has been working with AWS since 2008 and has more than 1,100 AWS certifications and 10 competencies.

“Right now, 18 percent of our [total revenue] is involved with AWS,” Jackson said. “Of the work that we do across all cloud platforms, it’s 80 percent.” Impressive numbers that show the importance of AWS in any go-to-market model. Jackson said one example of AWS’ partner-centric model is the company’s sense of urgency. In fact, he said, when one of Slalom’s senior leaders approached an AWS competitor about a “concern and an opportunity,” the executive never heard back. Meanwhile, the average response time of an AWS senior leader engaged with Slalom is three hours.

Another partner refers to teaming with AWS as an “entrepreneurial boot camp” that is far different than the traditional partner models from the pre-cloud era. That AWS speed and agility has clearly influenced how AWS partners have built out their own businesses.

Jassy, for his part, said the growth of the AWS Partner Network has been nothing short of unbelievable. “Our partner ecosystem is not somehow like a side project with a very small amount of our total business,” Jassy told Goodison. “Our partner ecosystem—really from the very start of AWS, but particularly so in the last five years—has continued to become a very significant part of our AWS business, and it’s super strategic and important to us.”

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