AWS unveils partner investment plans as trans-Tasman ecosystem grows

Professional certification, solution and industry competencies key as tech giant edges channel towards SAP.
Stefan Jansen - Head of Channels and Alliances, AWS (Photo - Maria Stefina)

Stefan Jansen - Head of Channels and Alliances, AWS (Photo - Maria Stefina)

Professional certification, solution and industry competencies, and hybrid IT are among the areas in which Amazon Web Services (AWS) plans to pump its partner investment dollars in the local market during 2017.

Revealed during the AWS Partner Summit in Sydney, the tech giant laid out its channel roadmap for the year ahead following 12 months of strong local and global ecosystem growth.

As outlined in the opening keynote by AWS Head of Channels and Alliances, Stefan Jansen, the vendor added over 10,000 new partners to its global network in 2016, with 60 per cent of AWS Partner Network (APN) providers now headquartered outside of the US.

Bolstered by 110 per cent and 130 per cent year-on-year growth in consulting and managed service partners respectively, to date, over 90 per cent of the Fortune 100 now use APN partner solutions and services.

From a trans-Tasman perspective, 58 per cent of AWS partner attendees originate from New South Wales, followed by 19 per cent in Victoria and eight per cent apiece in both Queensland and New Zealand.

Delving deeper into the vendor’s ecosystem, the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia and international players each represent two per cent of partners locally, while South Australia accounts for one per cent of the current network.

Within that AWS framework, 61 per cent are consulting partners, 28 per cent are technology-focused and a further 11 per cent are “exploring to become a partner”.

AWS Partner Audience in 2017
AWS Partner Audience in 2017

At the same time, AWS recorded a 108 per cent year-on-year increase in billed revenue for the year to date locally, more than the global average, which stood at 93 per cent.

The figures also highlight one of the potential reasons why the company wants to focus on partner certification in the local market, with the number of AWS certifications in the channel increasing by 110 per cent year-on-year for the year to date, well below the 159 per cent growth recorded globally.

Partner play

In response to an expanding local partner base, the cloud leader revealed plans to further bolster competencies within the channel, chiefly around the Internet of Things (IoT), SAP and specific industry verticals.

Within this strategy, AWS is advising partners to leverage the vendor’s relationship with SAP in the cloud, in a bid to capitalise on changing market requirements.

As reported by ARN in May 2016, enterprise usage of SAP applications on the AWS Cloud is growing, across all industries and geographies, as businesses move mission-critical workloads to the skies.

Since verifying and certifying various solutions for production deployment on AWS, SAP workloads now available include S/4HANA, SAP Business Suite on HANA, Business Warehouse on HANA, SAP HANA, SAP Business All-in-One, SAP Business One, SAP BusinessObjects, SAP Database and Mobile Solutions.

“The next area that is a significant focus for us is running SAP cloud on AWS,” AWS Head of APAC Channels and Alliances, Cam McNaught, told partners. “We’ve had SAP workload competencies for a while, and we probably didn’t put enough focus on it early.

“But it really now becomes a validation point for partners, developing the skills and capabilities to plan, migrate and run SAP workloads on AWS, in particular enterprise production workloads. We’re going to continue to invest in the competency of our partners.”

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In addition to growing opportunities around SAP, McNaught also flagged IoT as an area of focus for the cloud vendor, in which it expects to boost its investment in partners’ competencies.

“We all know this is a significant growth market, there’s a large opportunity out there,” he said.

Furthermore, McNaught flagged plans to pump more investment into migration competencies among AWS partners this year.

AWS has competency requirements in over seven major technology areas, including mobile, storage and DevOps, as well as IoT and migration.

Likewise, there are at least six industry vertical competency standards, including government, healthcare and digital media.

For McNaught, the investment focus is part of the company’s push better meet end customers’ needs, and ease the way to finding the best partner for the best business problem.

“Every one of these competencies is all about customer needs,” he said. “Customers ask us, ‘who is your best partner?’ Now, we can’t answer that, with tens of thousands of partners.

"But what we can do is answer that when we get down to a specific area, and what partners are known for.

“We can tell them who our best performing partners are in certain areas. This is why the competencies are so important.”

AWS Partner Audience in 2017
AWS Partner Audience in 2017

As a result, the company revealed plans to “over-invest” in its partners who attain such, competencies, alongside “over-investing” in professional certification among its channel.

“We’re going to continue to invest and over-invest in your teams’ professional certification, we continue to put millions of dollars of investment into this, and we want to make sure it’s focusing the right teams on the right areas of the organisation,” McNaught added.

Hybrid IT has also come into focus for the company, with McNaught suggesting that hybrid options remain an essential option for many of its customers, in particular our larger enterprise and government customers that are not necessarily cloud native.

“Will continue to invest in this and invest in partners who support hybrid options, around hybrid IT, on-premise and in AWS cloud,” he said. “We’ll continue to invest as customers need these hybrid options.

“But we do believe in the fullness of time, that customers will not have the need to manage their own ICT services, but will deliver their services from public cloud, and as that journey happens, hybrid options are important to us,” he said.

Another new offering set to hit this year is VMware Cloud on AWS, with McNaught flagging that the capability will be available to AWS customers in 2017, with the launch of a VMware Cloud on AWS partner program.

The VMware Cloud on AWS offering has been in “Technology Preview” status, according to the company’s website.

Once it becomes available, customers will be able to use VMware’s virtualisation and management software to deploy and manage VMware workloads across all of their on-premises and AWS environments.

“This new offering will allow customers to leverage their existing investments in VMware skillsets and tooling to quickly and seamlessly take advantage of the flexibility and economics of the AWS Cloud,” AWS said in a statement.