Check the street posters and the billboards - a new act is in town.
Billed as the headline performer, for centuries theatres around the world have fought to house the best talent on the planet, providing a platform to amaze wave after wave of customers from Sydney to Stockholm.
Today, the rise of the independent software vendor (ISV) is creating a technological equivalent.
Also billed as a headline performer, leading vendors are competing at breakneck pace to attract top ISV talent, providing a cloud platform capable of fostering innovation on a global scale.
In providing such a framework, ISVs are becoming channel superstars, with vendors clamouring to create cloud-friendly environments to ensure ongoing profitability and growth.
“ISVs are important because they consume our platform, but more importantly they provide innovative solutions to our end customers,” Amazon Web Services head of channels and alliances, Stefan Jansen, said.
In keeping with sustained public cloud services market growth of 16.5 per cent - reaching $US204 billion in 2016 - AWS is taking advantage of a rise in cloud application services (SaaS), which are forecast to grow 20.3 per cent this year, reaching $US37.7 billion according to Gartner.
“It’s clear that SaaS consumption will overtake traditional software with the consumption of applications and SaaS-based products continuing to rise,” Jansen added.
In the wake of such seismic SaaS activity, and with a partner network comprising on consultancy and technology partners, AWS is betting on its ISV channel to keep itself at the leading edge of the industry.
Working closely with born-in-the-cloud ISVs, Jansen said the expanding footprint of the AWS cloud – spanning 38 availability zones within 14 geographic regions – is helping partners realise both local and global ambitions.
“Born-in-the-cloud ISVs are instantly global,” Jansen said.
Closer to home however, Australia represents a growing hotbed of companies rising through the AWS cloud ranks to capture new customers, both large and small.
“Take Versent as an example,” Jansen explained. “Rather than building a traditional software business, you can just spin it up through the cloud and away you go.
“It’s an emerging trend as more companies begin to follow suit.”
As one of the country’s fastest growing AWS consulting partners, the Melbourne-based company opened its doors in January 2015, before growing to 105 staff, servicing over 70 customers with close to $20 million in revenue.
“They saw an opportunity based on the conversations they had with enterprise customers and realised a need for consulting services driving automation, security and agile,” Jansen added. “As they’ve developed they are now delivering to multiple enterprise customers not only in Australia, but also Singapore.
“Versent architects then built and launched a product called Stax, which is now attracting interest from the US market. If you’re a software developer or consulting partner with repetitive IP, there’s no requirement to buy the assets.
“Instead companies can experiment and fail fast at a lower cost, building out a product that can then be taken to market.”
Amidst the rising prominence of the ISVs such as Versent - and its spin off business in Stax - Jansen said AWS assesses its channel community through the lens of its AWS Partner Network (APN), allowing partners to showcase potential on the platform.
“APN allows partners to register with minimal criteria,” he added. “But as partners demonstrate their capabilities and skill sets they can advance up the tiers. “We want to assure that our customers understand what the partner program means and that it represents a level of quality and quality assurance.”
Working with the channel
From a reseller perspective, those operating within the program can resell ISV products that are onboarded onto the AWS Marketplace.
Launched in 2012, the AWS Marketplace is an online store allowing cloud customers to find, compare and utilise AWS software and technical services.
In short, the store serves to accommodate and foster the growth of AWS services from third-party providers that have built solutions on top of the AWS platform.
“We’re growing significantly with over 2,500 listings covering over 900 ISVs,” Jansen said. “It predominantly started out in the tooling space, including backup and data recovery but now more SaaS products are being listed.”
Based on end-user feedback - in keeping with the customer-centricity mantra that dictates every move AWS makes - Jansen said the marketplace “removes the friction” of procuring and consulting software, addressing two ongoing challenges within the cloud.
“Customers enjoy the benefits of cloud but don’t like to be locked into long-term contracts,” he added. “We’re removing those pain points and working with software vendors to allow them to offer their software on a consumption basis - whether that’s hourly, monthly rates etc.
“As a consulting partner, system integrator or managed service provider, benefits can be found by instantly helping customers consume that software. And if you’re a reseller you can also start reselling and receive your standard reselling benefits in that context.”
Through the cloud, and its growing online store of services, Jansen said there’s opportunities for “all types of partners” within the AWS ecosystem, advising partners to “think customer first” in the pursuit of revenue growth.
“Listen to their needs and your plan should depend on what the customer is asking for,” he advised. “We work with partners of all breeds and capabilities and continue to engage across all areas of the channel.”
As the buyer become more knowledgeable and sophisticated, Jansen said customers arena demanding in-depth capabilities from the channel, seeking specialisation and collaboration in equal measure.
“Specialisation is happening within large consulting partners such as Accenture,” he said. “They’ve built deep capabilities within the digital space around big data and analytics and customers want to consume those services.
“Partners must also display a certain level of depth when helping organisations move to the cloud and collaboration forms a key part of that equation.”
Yet for the traditional channel still blinded by the bright lights of the cloud - and the countless innovations happening within it - the AWS route to market poses problems.
With 2016 yet to close, AWS has already added over 700 new features to its cloud platform, with the number widely expect to increase in the twelve months ahead.
“The pace of innovation is only accelerating,” Jansen acknowledged. “For partners new to cloud and looking to transform their own business, look at ways to drive instant value to your business.”
In examining the Australian landscape of partners, as the “broad and diverse” channel jockeys for position within the cloud, Jansen’s advice is clear - “play to your strengths”.
“Take Myriad IT as an example,” explained Jansen, referring to the company’s expertise around JD Edwards enterprise resource planning software implementation. “They’ve historically been very strong in the deployment of JD Edwards solutions.
“Now they have built out AWS capabilities and are migrating JD Edwards customers to the cloud, providing greater agility while reducing the costs of legacy infrastructure.
“For them it’s a logical extension and for most partners, they are building out cloud capabilities that stay true to their roots.”
Looking ahead, Jansen said AWS is going to further emphasise its investments within the local market, delivered through two core channel initiatives.
“Firstly, we’re increasing our collaborative models with ISVs,” he added. “We’re going to place more emphasis on helping the channel consume ISVs that have listings on our marketplace, it’s a key route to market for us.
“Secondly, we’re targeting customers that operate within the mid-market and SMB spaces. There’s growing demand around adopting cloud services and we need partners who can help migrate those businesses and scale within that channel.”
This article originally appeared in the November issue of ARN magazine - to subscribe, please click here