10 Boldest Statements From AWS Channel Chief Doug Yeum At Best Of Breed Virtual Winter 2021

‘In general, I think people think that AWS may not be as partner-friendly, but that just could be the furthest thing from the truth about how we think about our partners,’ said Doug Yeum, who leads Amazon Web Services’ worldwide channel and alliances.

Speed and differentiation distinguish the new breed of Amazon Web Services partners increasing their traction among the top provider’s cloud computing customers, according to AWS channel chief Doug Yeum.

AWS likes to say that speed matters disproportionately to businesses of any size and in any stage of their journeys, acknowledged Yeum, who leads AWS’ worldwide channel and alliances.

“Speed matters a lot, and we try to optimize for speed in everything that we do at AWS,” Yeum said during CRN owner The Channel Co.’s Best of Breed Virtual Event Series on Wednesday. “We also believe that speed matters a lot for our partners.”

Customers are accelerating their adoption of important technology trends, and they’re asking partners to move as fast or faster in helping them, Yeum said.

“We’re going to do everything that we can to ensure that partners, when they engage with AWS, are able to get the right support from our team as fast as possible, that they have access to the programs and the benefits that matter to their business in the fastest way,” Yeum said during a Q&A session with CRN news editor Steve Burke. “So we’re making some changes.”

At its re:Invent 2020 conference in December, AWS announced a new ISV Partner Path program to make it easier for independent software vendors (ISVs) and AWS consulting partners to build, market and sell their solutions on the AWS cloud. AWS also is placing more emphasis on its ISV Accelerate Program, which aligns sales teams from AWS and ISVs for co-selling support, so ISVs can access millions of active AWS customers.

“We want to make sure that we offer a more tailored experience, a prescriptive experience, where they’re able to quickly identify the right programs and the right benefits, and then be able to work with AWS resources as quickly as possible for them to move faster,” Yeum said.

Read on to find out what else Yeum had to say about partner speed and differentiation and his other boldest statements on the SaaS-ification of ISV and enterprise solutions, AWS CEO Andy Jassy’s views on partners, the growing AWS Partner Network, systems integrators rolling out their own software solutions, security at AWS, capitalizing on new AWS products and services, and the new cloud IT stack.

Top-Level Conviction

The most important thing about moving fast is all about having the top level of conviction -- having the senior leaders of these partners having that conviction that, “Hey, we have to become cloud first.” And if the senior leaders make that into their priority, then the entire organization will follow, and everything that they do will be about moving faster to the cloud.

Companies like Accenture and Slalom and Rackspace…the senior leaders of these companies, they were courageous. They showed a lot of discipline in making the right tradeoffs for their business, and they made a decision to go and become a cloud-first company.

When you make that decision, sometimes you have to deal with some of the challenges that come with that decision, like potentially cannibalizing their existing business that’s on prem. But they know that for them to shape the future of their businesses, they had to make that decision, because they knew the cloud was the future.

More and more CEOs are telling me that they’re now willing to make that decision. Because of everything that’s happened over the last nine to 12 months, I think the CEOs of these partners are saying, “Okay, there is no waiting until tomorrow. We’ve got to do this now.” I think we’re going to see a lot more CEOs and senior leaders of these companies making that hard decision, but it’s the right decision.

Partner Differentiation

Differentiation is really, really important. We announced new competencies like the travel and hospitality industry competency (at re:Invent 2020). We also preannounced the energy industry competency. We also announced a mainframe (migration) competency. We continue to look at what customers are asking for and what partners are looking for, and we come out with the right competencies.

By leveraging the different competencies, as well as other programs that we have around things like (AWS) Service Delivery Program or Service Ready Program, these are important ways for our partners to differentiate.

I have a feeling that customers will continue to look for partners who have more differentiated skills. And so it behooves our partners to spend more time working closely with the AWS partner team to figure out which areas that they want to differentiate (in) and work quickly to get that competency. That’s something that I think is going to be very important in 2021.

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.


One of the things I announced during the Re:Invent keynote was our new service called SaaS Boost, which is an open-source reference environment to help ISVs take their traditional applications and be able to quickly modernize as a SaaS service on AWS.

This tool, I believe, is going to really accelerate the pace at which ISVs start offering their solutions as a SaaS to their customers. And this trend, there’s so much demand for it right now…just because of all the ISVs who are asking us to help them with that SaaS-ification of their solution.

We’ve had a team around this…program that we launched in 2017 called the SaaS Factory program, and that SaaS Factory program has engaged with hundreds of ISVs to help them migrate their solutions to SaaS on AWS.

And we last year also launched a new competency called the SaaS competency with 27 SI (systems integrator) partners who have deep skills in helping customers take their solutions to SaaS or build cloud-native applications. These SI partners who have this competency are helping ISV partners move to the cloud and develop a SaaS application.

So there’s an opportunity for SaaS application providers. There’s an opportunity for SIs to help companies that want to have a SaaS application. And enterprise customers are demanding more solutions from these SaaS providers, so I think this whole cloud IT stack movement is going to accelerate.

SaaS-ifying Enterprise Apps

(Nasdaq) worked very closely with the SaaS Factory Program on their solution that they offer to a number of a different exchanges around the world and also a number of different financial institutions around the world who want service that Nasdaq provides. They’ve been able to offer a SaaS version of that.

Nasdaq has been a really important customer of AWS. I believe they’ve been a customer since 2013 or 2012, so they’re a very sophisticated customer. They know the cloud very well. They’ve leveraged their experience with AWS, but they also receive support from the SaaS Factory team to have their SaaS applications running on AWS.

But Nasdaq is just one of many enterprise customers who are now thinking about how to offer their services to their end customers in a SaaS delivery model. There are so many enterprise customers…companies like GE or companies like Siemens or companies like Schneider, they all have a lot of B2B services that they’ve been offering traditionally. And they’re now saying, “Hey, is there a different way for us to deliver the services through SaaS on AWS?”

This is where the SI partners who have the SaaS competency can come and play an important role in helping these enterprise customers.

On Being Partner Friendly

(AWS CEO Andy Jassy’s) (pictured) focus and dedication to our partners is something that I think some people may not see, because he doesn’t get to talk to our partners as regularly as I do, but he still spends a significant amount of time with partners. In general, I think people think that AWS may not be as partner-friendly, but that just could be the furthest thing from the truth about how we think about our partners.

He and I, we talk about our partner business all the time and what more can we be doing with our partners to help them succeed. What more can we do together to make sure our joint customers are successful, and what more can we be doing to move faster together and scale our businesses together?

He is so focused on making sure that we have great relationships with our partners. So I wanted to make sure that all the partners who are watching this show today -- if there’s one thing that they can take away from this -- is that Andy Jassy, as the CEO of AWS, he is super, super focused on making sure that we have great relationships with all of our partners.

The Growing AWS Partner Network

The fact that we’re adding 50 new -- more than 50 new partners every day -- it still amazes me. I think the total number of partners that we added last year in 2020 was more than any other previous year.

That just goes to show the demand that we’re seeing from partners to engage with AWS. 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.

SIs And SaaS

We see a number of SI partners becoming like ISV partners. They have their own (SaaS) solutions, they’re building their solutions on AWS and taking those solutions to market -- whether that’s an industry solution or some domain-specific use case solution. But we’re seeing more SI partners coming out with solutions.

We want to be able to help those SI partners with these solutions. SI partners, in the past, they didn’t have an easy way to engage AWS if they had a solution. But now with ISV Partner Path, even an SI partner with a…technology solution that runs on AWS, they now have a very easy path of working with AWS.

SolarWinds, Security And Partners

Fortunately, AWS was not affected by the SolarWinds issue, and we don’t use their software. But in general…security has been and will be our No. 1 priority at AWS. It is something that Andy 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.

One of the things that we’ve done recently is we’ve come up with this new program, called the Well-Architected Partner Program, that we launched maybe 18 to 24 months ago. We have enabled a number of our SI partners to really understand our Well-Architected Framework and be able to leverage that framework and apply that as they work with our customers and assess and do an audit of their applications running on AWS

One of the key pillars of that Well-Architected Framework is around security. 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.

Capitalizing On New AWS Services

A lot of the services that we launch, we launch them because customers told us that they needed it.

So when we launch new services, I think the partners -- the best ones -- they realize that when we launch, there is demand. And for them, if they have special capabilities around the new services that we launched, they should really move quickly and build a practice around it or even build new companies around it.

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.

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.

The New Cloud IT Stack

Many of our enterprise customers are now working with many of our ISV partners, companies like Okta or PagerDuty or Atlassian or Zoom or Slack.

And these companies -- what we call the best-of-breed cloud applications -- they’re now forming the cloud IT stack for many of these enterprise customers. We’re seeing more and more companies move away from the monolithic, sort of the old legacy IT stack over to this new best-of-breed cloud IT stack, and we believe this trend is going to accelerate.

That’s why you’re also seeing so many of the ISVs providing SaaS applications -- because customers are looking to now consume software-as-a-service.