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Q&A with AWS channel boss Brian Matsubara

MicroScope sits down with AWS channel boss Brian Matsubara to understand what impact the largest public cloud provider on the planet is having on the channel

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has almost single handedly reshaped the modern the channel. Its sheer size has made it a force impossible to ignore. Accoriding to Gartner, AWS’s IaaS cloud is ten times larger than the next 14 competitors combined.

AWS has been a blessing or a curse, depending on which side of the fence you sit. Many solution providers and resellers have been adversely affected as workloads continue to move away from IT infrastructure towards the cloud. Others have managed to tap into the application integration and ongoing managed service opuurtunites that the cloud provides.

But progress waits for no channel-man, and AWS continues to make massive inroads into virtually all areas of IT. What is ironic, is that as the platform matures, its reliance on the channel has become more pronounced.

AWS’ head of global alliance strategy, Brian Matsubara, sat down with MicroScope at the firm’s recent re:Invent conference is Las Vegas, to discuss how the world’s largest public cloud was impacting the channel.

AWS is striving to simplify the process of deploying applications in the cloud as much as possible. By making everything so customer friendly, aren’t you putting pressure on the traditional channel model?

I wouldn't say it puts pressure on the channel per se. It is prompting revolution of how the channel operates. Ultimately, yes, we want to make things simple; but when we make things simple for the customer, we make things simple for our partners.

With AWS, we free resellers from having to manage any type of operational aspect. This allows them to focus on higher-level services. It is putting pressure on the channel in some ways, but the right ways. The value add is no longer being able to ship a bunch of boxes to your loading dock; the value add is to be able to migrate 3 PB of data and add an analytics package around that.

The AWS Marketplace could be seen as another sore point for channel players. By allowing vendors to sell software in the cloud directly to customer, aren’t you eroding the good old-fashioned b2b sales model?

It doesn’t and I’ll explain why. It’s a marketplace for sellers. The sellers can be manufacturers, consulting partners or systems integrators. Enterprise software by itself is not turnkey.  It requires ancillary software to connect to it or someone to do the configuration, so we have a growing number of resellers in the marketplace using AWS as a storefront.

We’ve put a lot of thought into it. The channel is very important to us and we don’t want to disintermediate them and so we’ve built mechanisms for them to provide their services and cater to customer needs.

Do you see the AWS Marketplace becoming the enterprise equivalent of Amazon.com?

We have invested heavily in the marketplace and we will continue to do so. With time, it will become the way in which customers find, evaluate, procure and deploy enterprise–grade software. It really is akin to Amazon.com. If you want a flatscreen TV, you go to the storefront, you click on TVs and then you can search by brands and all those kinds of things. Conceptually, the AWS Marketplace is the same thing for enterprise software. It’s a great discovery tool and it removes the procurement friction. We’re encouraging all our ISVs to deploy software in the marketplace.

Amazon has historically been quite cloak and dagger when it comes to revealing statistics around AWS. Up until the last quarter, we had no hard data on revenue and you still won’t tell us how many partners you have worldwide. Why all the mystery? 

Often we will only release information when it makes sense from a customer standpoint. What customers need to know is that, from the perspective of the ecosystem, they will have the ability to find the partners that their looking for. Revealing the actual number volume wise, while it might be interesting for you guys, isn’t core to solving customer problems.

Traditionally, we’ve always been conservative with the things that we disclose; if there is no customer-orientated reason to so, then we probably won’t. I can tell you that our partner ecosystem runs into the tens of thousands

How many of those are in the EMEA region?

A proportion of the tens of thousands

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