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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

Mission, Migration, and Modernization – three pillars of AWS Partner Program

There is no doubt that Amazon AWS has been a cloud leader since 2006. Channel partners are an essential cog in the wheel of success. The AWS Partner Network (APN) is the umbrella under which its global community of partners builds solutions and services for their customers. Over the years, APN has evolved to include an MSP program, distribution program, marketplace channel program, and partner transformation program, amongst many others. Despite the evolution, AWS is not particularly well-known for its partner program, except if the partner is a significant consulting partner such as Accenture, Deloitte, Mphasis, and several others or a technology partner of size, stature, and brand recognition. However, the AWS Partner Network (APN) does include more than 100,000 Partners from more than 150 countries, with almost 70% headquartered outside of the US.

Over the last decade, there has been an industry-wide change in engagement models to support smaller channel partners. Except for top-tier partners, vendors have distanced themselves from direct oversight of channel marketing initiatives, relying on distributors to manage market development resources. The changes have made it more difficult for channel organizations to maintain predictable operational arcs. They have also made it more difficult for vendors to build and nurture high-performance partner networks. As a result, almost every week, we field two questions from the channel partner community. 1/ Does AWS have a partner program for the midsized to smaller partners? 2/ How does its program differ from Microsoft's (and increasingly from Google Cloud) channel partner initiatives?

The questions and reality are on parallel tracks. The overwhelming majority of AWS partners are smaller businesses. AWS has intentionally designed the entry point of its programs to be inclusive of small businesses. For example, consulting or SI partners only need four trained employees, two certified employees, and three engagements with customers. ISVs only need to complete a Foundational Technical Review.

Sandy Carter, Vice President of worldwide public sector partners and programs at Amazon Web Services (AWS), is transforming the program to be inclusive and diversified, at least for the partners focused on the worldwide public sector – government, healthcare, education, not-for-profit, space, federal financials, and energy. Mission, modernization, and migration are the three pillars of partner enablement and empowerment. Mission is not about simply migrating something over or performing an IT function; it is about delivering a business value for the organization, agency, state, or country. There are many examples, such as digitizing a hospital, leveraging supply chain technology to get food to the right place, or leveraging AWS technology to deliver vaccines. Modernization for AWS is about using artificial intelligence, machine learning, and IoT. Finally, migration is more wide-ranging than the other two, with three converging tracks – application migration, mainframe migration, and data-led migration.

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VMware Partner Connect program is on its way to being future-ready

Channel empowerment, customer outcomes, solution labs, orchestration, partner ecosystem, and frictionless access for business scale are a few of the twelve essential components for a future-ready partner program. VMware is systematically addressing each one of these. In February 2019, I spoke at an IBM event during IBM’s Partnerworld conference and presented the above components. Unfortunately, IBM has chosen to be extremely slow to go down the path of the imperative future direction. In direct contrast, VMware is using the right words and is traversing a measured way to put words into action.

Cloud has fundamentally reshaped the consumption of IT resources. By providing buyers with variable-cost access to software, software development environments, core processing, storage resources, and even specialized skills, the cloud’s Anything-as-a-Service model prompts a massive shift in IT spending from traditional products and to on-demand alternatives. As a result, the transition from conventional products to aaS is fundamentally disruptive to the IT channel.

Business infrastructure is no longer procured solely through asset purchases – there is an accelerating trend towards aaS procurement. The direction means an increasing proportion of single large transaction sales spreads across a multi-year period for a channel partner, which stresses sales management, compensation structures, financial management, and cash flow. It also places strain on the professional services group by changing/expanding the requirement for technical skills. Buyers increasingly need support for hybrid IT environments spanning conventional and cloud infrastructure. To remain viable, channel partners and vendor suppliers need to align scarce resources with shifting customer demand. Channel executives need to guide their businesses through the transition to hybrid/cloud, maintaining account relationships as customer expectations evolve from ‘what can you deliver?’ to ‘how can you support my business in a shared-risk environment?’ VMware has begun the shift to being a guide and partner enabler for an empowered future.

First announced in 2018, VMware re-introduced its Partner Connect program in 2020 with a shift to SaaS. One year later, I find that it is in touch with reality, successfully transforming for the future. VMware plans to achieve 40% revenue from SaaS and subscriptions by 2025 compared to 18% in 2020. It knows that efficient SaaS transformation begins with a practical engagement with the partner ecosystem and is doing so by transitioning from product sale focus to creating customer value and aligning with delivering customer business outcomes.

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