Amazon Web Services Launches Managed Service Provider Program With 6 Partners

Amazon Web Services on Tuesday named the first six solution providers it has certified to offer managed services on its cloud as part of a new partner program.

The six partners forming the inaugural AWS managed service provider program class are 2nd Watch, Datapipe, Smartronix, Cascadeo, Day1 Solutions and RightBrain Networks. They all proved their operational and security competencies to a third-party auditor.

The program, revealed to APN partners at Amazon's re:Invent conference last year, is designed to offer enterprise customers a better means of selecting MSPs with the expertise to migrate and manage their workloads in the cloud.

[Related: AWS re:Invent Kicks Off With Amazon Pledging Greater Support For Partners ]

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"Our goal in creating the program was to establish a common customer experience when engaging AWS Managed Service Partners," said Kate Miller, content manager for Amazon's partner program, in the AWS blog.

"In doing this, we hope to help customers easily identify APN Partners who meet our high bar, and who possess deep AWS knowledge in conjunction with the right IT Service Management capabilities to deliver cloud managed services," Miller said.

Amazon will provide those partners guidance in developing their managed service practices, along with the cloud provider's imprimatur, which goes along way with potential customers often confused by the number of solution providers who claim cloud expertise.

Jamie Begin, CEO of one of the new partners -- Ann Arbor, Mich.-based RightBrain Networks -- worked with Amazon to formulate the program.

RightBrain often found itself competing against traditional MSPs capable of pulling off a lift-and-shift workload migration to Amazon's cloud, but who didn't have the deeper expertise necessary to rebuild applications to function appropriately in their new cloud environment, Begin told CRN.

"Problem is, a cloud-based MSP and traditional MSP are different business models," he said. "By and large, you have to understand how the application functions, and it has to be designed to work in an auto-scaling, self-healing process."

Begin said the auditing process was thorough and surprisingly valuable. Auditors confirmed that RightBrain followed best security practices, Begin said, making sure they not only secured their customers' networks, but also their own.

"A lot of it was about enabling customer success," Begin told CRN. That included elements like verifying his company held regular customer meetings and documented and monitored its SLAs.

Begin is already incorporating RightBrain's new competency into the company's sales pitch, an answer to the question a lot of potential customers ask when they interview different providers: "What's different?"

Jeff Aden, vice president of business development at 2nd Watch, told CRN that the new MSP competency is a strategic component of the global solution provider's efforts to guide customers in their journey to the cloud.

2nd Watch operates a managed cloud, which he described as software-powered services for the company's enterprise clients.

"The Managed Service Program validates 2nd Watch’s AWS knowledge and skills, business practices, and full cloud management lifecycle capabilities," Aden said.

As an inaugural member of the program, 2nd Watch will endeavor to establish a high bar for future participants, Aden said, adding that company leaders were impressed by the third-party audit, especially because of its prescriptive qualities.

Amazon's Miller blogged: "Through the rigorous audit process, these APN Partners have been validated in their ability to help customers migrate their workloads to AWS and operate those workloads efficiently by following AWS operational and security best practices, while looking for ways to continuously optimize and save their customers money."