AWS re:Invent 2021: The 10 Biggest Announcements
Wade Tyler Millward
New partner paths, AI for data analytics and additional partner competencies are among the top announcements from AWS re:Invent.
A set of partner solutions for data analytics, an overhaul of the partner program to introduce new “partner paths” and new competencies for energy, migration and more are among the biggest announcements to come out of Amazon Web Services’ cloud computing-focused re:Invent conference this week.
Being held from Nov. 29 to Dec. 3 at The Venetian Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, this year’s re:Invent was in person and online, unlike last year’s event, which was held online only due to the pandemic. Attendees of the 2021 re:Invent needed to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and masked.
The event also comes among major personnel changes for AWS’ partner programs, with channel chief Doug Yeum moving to Amazon and Sandy Carter, AWS’ former vice president of worldwide public sector partners and programs, leaving the company to go to a startup.
One company to benefit from some of AWS’ recent partner program investments is Ironclad Technology Services, an AWS and Microsoft partner based in Virginia Beach, Va., and focused on public sector customers.
The company went through AWS’ rapid adoption assistance program for artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML)— launched in 2020—to help customers learn more from their data without the need to hire fully trained data scientists. Part of AWS’ re:Invent 2021 announcements was the addition of more rapid adoption assistance programs.
“It‘s been a godsend for us, especially for a small business like us, because we don’t have the resources and investments to do all of that training all by ourselves,” Rajiv Kadayam, Ironclad’s CTO, told CRN in an interview.
Kadayam said that his company is hiring more employees to meet the demand and is on its way to becoming an Advanced Consulting Partner by early next year and securing more competencies.
Here are 10 of the biggest announcements from the AWS re:Invent conference.
AI For Data Analytics
AWS continues its investment in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) with a set of partner solutions called AI for Data Analytics (AIDA) to expand predictive analytics capabilities in workspaces. The solutions are aimed at business users who use data but have limited data science experience, according to AWS.
AIDA can help predict customer churn, create playbooks for next best actions and next best offers, predict lifetime value of prospects and existing customers to adjust the costs of acquisition and retention, and lower operational costs with supply pre-positioning and workforce scheduling, among other capabilities.
AWS Consulting Partners Provectus, Cognizant, Interworks and Quantiphi can configure and develop custom solutions, according to AWS.
AIDA features interfaces, integration and services from a host of technology partners. Workato and Pega offer business process automation solutions. Anaplan, Causality Link and Amplitude offer business applications services. And Exasol, Snowflake, Qlik, Tableau and TIBC offer business intelligence and data warehouse-related solutions, according to AWS.
The solutions use AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning services such as SageMaker Autopilot and Amazon Forecast.
Partner Program Overhaul
AWS has overhauled its partner program to replace the technology and consulting partner type models and instead focus on what partners offer. Partners can enroll in multiple paths.
The AWS partner program now has five “paths” for partners to fit into. The new partner paths start Jan. 31, according to AWS.
Partners that develop hardware devices that work with AWS will look to the hardware path. The services path is meant for partners that deliver consulting, professional, managed and value-add resale services, according to AWS.
The training path is for partners that sell, deliver or incorporate AWS training into their solutions. For partners that recruit, on-board and enable business to resell and develop AWS products and services, the invite-only distribution path is for them.
And the software path—the renamed “ISV partner path” that launched last year for independent software vendors—is for partners that develop software running on or integrated with AWS, according to the tech giant.
The goal of the partner program overhaul is to simplify engagement, expand partner access to benefits and streamline the experience, according to AWS.
Companies that register with the AWS Partner Network receive a dedicated partner portal, training discounts, business and technical enablement content, programs and benefits.
Energy Competency Generally Available
AWS has made its Energy Competency generally available, giving AWS partners a way to showcase solutions that have undergone rigorous validation, including a third-party technical review and customer reference audit.
The competency launches with 32 inaugural partners developing solutions to improve customers’ asset operation and energy efficiency. The company unveiled the Energy Competency in 2020.
Achieving this competency requires a technical validation for energy-industry-specific best practices, according to AWS.
Software and hardware competency partners include Nvidia—which offers digital twins and physics-informed artificial intelligence to create more resilient grid operations and other actions—and Halliburton, which offers the iEnergy hybrid cloud offering to deploy, integrate and manage exploration and production cloud applications.
Energy consulting partners include Accenture, Cloudreach, EPAM, IBM, Slalom and SoftServe, according to AWS.
Migration And Modernization Competency Is Here
AWS launched a migration and modernization competency for partners to showcase validated software solutions for customers. The company unveiled the competency in 2020.
Partners with this competency have cut weeks of effort to modernize customer assets through automation, used containers and similar practices for application modernization and delivered tools for automated replatforming and refactoring.
The competency covers five areas of expertise. Launch partners for the discovery, planning and recommendation expertise include Flexera, Deloitte and CloudHedge.
Deloitte is also a launch partner for the application mobility expertise along with RiverMeadow Software and Matilda, according to AWS.
Launch partners for the business case analysis expertise include CloudHealth by VMware, IBM subsidiary Turbonomic and CloudChomp.
Qlik, WANdisco and NetApp are among the launch partners for the data mobility expertise. And New Relic, Datadog, AppDynamics and Dynatrace are among the application monitoring and orchestration launch partners, according to AWS.
GameDay Benefits Expand
AWS has added benefits to GameDay—a collaborative learning exercise to test AWS implementation skills—for partners in the service delivery, service ready, competency and MSP differentiation programs.
Partners can use GameDay to explore AWS services, architecture patterns, best practices and group cooperation, according to AWS.
The GameDay League features teams from global partner companies competing on technical challenges to build new cloud skills in a simulated version of AWS Management Console.
GameDay Quests Development Kit allows partners to integrate products with real-world scenarios for repeatable, lead-generating events. Partners build “quests,” integrate them into GameDay content, and allow customers to have hands-on experience with the product, according to AWS.
Companies that have participated in GameDays include Datadog to experiment with development, security and operations in the cloud and AMD to test capabilities with the EPYC processor, according to AWS.
Graviton Ready Program Debuts
AWS has added a new Graviton Ready Program to its Service Ready Program. This new program validates software products that integrate with Graviton processors, which are meant to enable the best price/performance for Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) workloads.
Graviton Ready partners offer Graviton-supported software offerings such as operating systems, platform services, security, monitoring, observability, continuous integration/ continuous deployment, cloud devices and data analytics, according to AWS.
Launch partners include CircleCI, GitLab, Elastic, Datadog, Red Hat, Docker, Trend Micro and New Relic.
Graviton instances are available across 23 AWS regions. Interested partners must be AWS ISV Partner Path-validated members and pass their foundational technical review before applying, according to AWS.
Earlier this year, AWS unveiled new Amazon EC2 X2gd instances powered by its Graviton2 processors that deliver up to 55 percent better price/performance for memory-intensive workloads than current-generation x86-based X1 instances.
Data Exchange For Amazon Redshift Update
AWS Data Exchange for Amazon Redshift—which allows users to find, subscribe to and query data from dozens of providers in Amazon Redshift without setting up extract, transform and load (ETL) or data pipelining tools—will become generally available soon after a public preview launch earlier this year, Stephen Orban, general manager of the AWS Marketplace and control services, told CRN in an interview.
“They can take a copy if they want, but they don‘t have to, and know that they’re always using the latest data that the provider has to offer since they’re operating on the same copy in the Redshift instance,” Orban said.
FactSet is among the launch partners for this capability. AWS unveiled a public preview of AWS Data Exchange for Amazon Redshift in October.
Data Exchange For APIs
AWS has made AWS Data Exchange for APIs generally available. This tool allows customers to subscribe to APIs in Data Exchange, call them using AWS SDK and govern from any AWS API call like IAM and CloudTrail.
“This really removes the need for customers to do bespoke API integrations with each vendor they work with because now they can call third-party APIs the same way they call any other AWS service to continue to power their applications, analytics and machine learning models with more data from more vendors and more formats,” Orban told CRN. “We believe that these launches continue to make AWS data exchange the most comprehensive service for third-party data needs.”
Launch partners include Dun & Bradstreet, FactSet, Foursquare and the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), which is owned by Amazon.
AWS Marketplace For Containers Anywhere
Also made generally available is the AWS Marketplace for Containers Anywhere capability, which allows customers to find, subscribe, deploy and govern dozens of new container offerings directly onto the Kubernetes environment of their choice with just a couple of simple commands, Orban said.
“This is extending the support we already have for AWS managed container environments so that customers can now deploy third-party containers into EKS Anywhere, Red Hat OpenShift, VMware Tanzu, Rancher or self-managed Kubernetes environment that they run themselves out on EC2 or on-premises,” he said. “Our customers are continuing to tell us that they love the fact that AWS Marketplace is becoming more and more of a one-stop shop for everything they need to transform their digital supply chain and migrate to the cloud at the same time.”
Launch partners include Palo Alto Networks, Kasten K10 by Veeam and JFrog.
More Tools For Public Sector, Smaller Partners
AWS has unveiled more initiatives and programs to help partners migrate customer property to the cloud, including an initiative focused on helping ISVs move electronic health records to the cloud in a programmatic and secure way, according to AWS.
The tech giant has also added a communities feature to its Think Big for Small Business program aimed at small AWS partners and partner businesses owned by people from underrepresented groups. Communities are peer-to-peer, AWS-led forums for education and enablement aimed at public sector partner businesses.
Communities will be established geographically, according to AWS. The program has grown to more than 200 members that receive business, technical and marketing enablement support.