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AWS channel chief: Partners key to growing the business

Public cloud giant Amazon Web Services’ channel chief speaks of the importance of partners and the acceleration of cloud adoption during the coronavirus pandemic

AWS re:Invent has been running now for a week and a half, during which time the channel has been presented with a range of technologies, programmes and competencies to consider getting involved with.

Making sure partners take advantage of those new offerings and that the indirect base continues to grow and contribute positively to the cloud giant’s fortunes is largely the responsibility of Doug Yeum, who heads up the global partner organisation at Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Yeum delivered his own keynote last week, revealing that the vendor wanted to increase its activities with independent software vendors (ISVs) and increase the opportunities for consulting partners to help customers move off legacy platforms and into the cloud.

The firm also revealed that it was taking steps to make it easier for customers to scale up and down their cloud usage, something that has become particularly important during the coronavirus pandemic. This should resonate with the channel as an opportunity to slay some of the myths about public cloud being expensive and a commitment that is difficult to manage.

“Elasticity in the actual usage is something we have always highlighted as a key advantage of cloud computing. You don’t have to buy enough hardware for you to be able to handle that peak,” said Yeum.

“The way I think about [it] is that partners [can] go to a customer and say, ‘Hey, you know what, you’ve been spending X dollars on that particular application using hardware in datacentres, so I’m going to help you move that over to the cloud, and make sure you’re optimised so that you’re only using what you need’,” he said.

Growing tech toolkit

AWS used this year’s re:Invent conference to take the wraps off 27 new services and Yeum accepted that it had a role in helping its channel get to grips with those innovations.

He said the firm has a large training and certification organisation and has solution architects who could be assigned to partners and give them immersion days to get up to speed with the technology.

AWS is taking steps to make it easier for customers to scale up and down their cloud usage, which should resonate with the channel as an opportunity to slay some of the myths about public cloud being expensive and a commitment that is difficult to manage

“It’s one of the most important things that we, as a partner organisation, can do for partners, given the pace at which we launch new services,” he added. “One of the things we tell our partners is that they don’t have to know every single service.

“One really important thing is when we see a particular service really resonating with partners, and also with customers, we come up with a new competency programme or new service delivery programme,” he added. “Then we will validate that the partner has a competency in that area so that when customers decide to use that partner, they know they can trust that partner to know that particular service.”

As well as coming up with its own innovations, AWS is also keen to work with the ISV community and add more depth to its Marketplace. Last week saw several programmes – ISV Partner Pack and AWS SaaS Boost – unveiled to help support that ambition.

For Yeum, ISVs are a community of builders and entrepreneurs that can bring a lot of value to the table, but also a group that recognises the advantages of working with a company the size of AWS.

“ISVs are a very sophisticated group of customers,” he said. “They have a lot of developers, they have a lot of builders and they have a lot of entrepreneurs who are starting up new ISVs. When they look at a platform like AWS, they immediately see that we have the breadth and depth that they need to build their services. And so they’re very quick to adopt AWS and we have tens of thousands of ISVs globally that are using AWS, and the vast majority have selected AWS as the first platform to build their solution on.”

Strong channel prospects

What was also clear in last week’s partner keynote session, which included an appearance by AWS CEO Andy Jassy, is that the channel is on the firm’s radar at the most senior levels.

“People underestimate how AWS thinks about the channel and I feel like ever since I’ve taken over this role I’ve spent a lot of time with [the CEO] about the importance and how do we continue to strengthen our channel partner network,” said Yeum.

“EMEA partners are coming to AWS and say, ‘Hey, let’s grow this business together’, and we’re all in with these partners,” he added. “We know that for AWS to continue to go from a $46bn run-rate business to a $100bn or $500bn, whatever that number is – and we have big aspirations – we know that we are going to need our partners to work closely with us to serve our customers.”

“Customers across all industries [are] saying they want to reinvent. Our partners [are also] wanting to reinvent and transform their businesses. So next year more customers [will be] working with more partners to drive the digital transformation initiative”

Doug Yeum, AWS

He said the prospects for channel players that work with AWS were looking strong, with the next few years likely to see even more cloud adoption by customers. One consequence of the pandemic has been to knock aside some of the inertia that had been holding back some customers and partners from making more moves into the cloud.

“They’ve had some inertia, saying, ‘Yeah, you know, things are pretty good right now, I don’t need to move that fast’. I think the pandemic has brought more clarity to what they need to do and I think it’s brought clarity to the importance of speed and having a sense of urgency,” he said.

“I definitely see customers across all industries saying they want to reinvent. We are also seeing a bunch of our partners wanting to reinvent and transform their businesses. So I definitely think next year you’re gonna start to see more customers working with more partners to drive the digital transformation initiative,” said Yeum.

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