How is AWS changing how it collaborates with its partner community? The company’s recent partner event showcased its partner-first vision.

Amazon Web Services, or AWS, was founded in 2002 with its initial product centering on its e-commerce-as-a-service platform which offered businesses a way to build their own webstores. The company’s cloud services were established less than four years later in 2006.

We could be on the cusp of the third era of AWS, with the company’s AI services at the forefront of the company’s recent partner summit in London.

The Channel has been a common thread throughout the evolution of the AWS business and its importance to the future of AWS was made clear. Throughout the event, AWS emphasised the power of three: the combination of AWS together with consulting partners and technology partners.

Ruba Borno, vice president, worldwide channels and alliances, AWS, opened the summit (pictured below) with an overview of how the company has pushed forward cloud adoption for businesses. Since 2017, Borno explained, AWS has trained nearly 1 million people in cloud skills. Now, we are reaching what Borno described as a “tipping point” with the onset of generative AI.

Borno said, “With generative AI, we are on the precipice of the next tipping point. It’s going to change businesses, industries, jobs... you name it. This is about our customers’ next stage of cloud adoption, digital transformation and reinvention. It’s not only a reinvention of our business, or of our customers’ businesses, but a reinvention of you as partners as well.”

She outlined the company’s partner-first generative AI strategy. “Our generative AI strategy is partner-first. If you look at every layer of the generative AI stack, we’ve got partners that we have launched and gone to market with. We do not launch solutions or products in generative AI without our partners.”

Next was Antonio Alonso Lopez, director of EMEA partner management at AWS. He said that, in the UK and Ireland, the company now has 145,000 unique customers with 1,500 solutions on offer in its Marketplace.

The partner community in the UK and Ireland all have the opportunity to become competent in AWS AI and machine learning solutions by accessing training materials on Partner Central. Lopez encouraged partners to get ready for AI as soon as possible, as he expects it to become fundamental to all businesses.

Speed and velocity

Later in the day, a panel discussion with senior members of the AWS partner leadership team (pictured below) discussed how AWS wants to work with partners going forward.

Madhavi Reddy, director, partner sales EMEA, spoke with Tanuja Randery, VP, EMEA, Chris Grusz, managing director, technology partnerships, Brian Bohan, director, worldwide consulting partners, and Chris Niederman, managing director, industries and partner solutions.

Bohan highlighted a key reason why AWS has “transformed the organisation” to become partner-first. He said, “We can really increase our speed and velocity with our partners.”

Certain partners, Bohan said, have got very adept at taking proof-of-concepts (POCs) and pilots and moving those into production. AWS wants to take learnings from those partners to understand how more projects can be taken from ideas to deeply embedded deployments.

He explained, “What we’re finding is they have a very rigorous and methodical process to qualify in and out these pilots and POCs. We believe there are many partners who have these processes. We want you to educate us, so we understand it.

“We can then lean in and invest in those pilots and POCs that can drive real business value and outcomes for our customers. Please lean into us, educate us, and then we’ll lean back in with you and invest and win together.”

Grusz emphasised more partner types are now using AWS Marketplace to list their solutions and reach a larger customer base.

He said, “Marketplace is becoming extremely popular with channel partners and resellers. We’re seeing distributors start to use Marketplace more at scale. We’re seeing system integrators list their services on Marketplace. So, if you haven’t tried it already: go try it. It’s really easy to go set up, it’ll take you 20 minutes, and it can be a very powerful component of how you’re going to work with AWS.”

Comfortable with uncomfortable

Later in the day, Paul Emsley-Martin, head of partner sales for the UK and Ireland, AWS, moderated a panel discussion with colleagues from the AWS partner organisation in the UK and Ireland to discuss how partners can sell and grow their offerings.

He was joined by Carina Conaghan, head of head of partner management, Jason Adae, ISV partner sales leader, Joe Carroll, general manager for telcos, media, entertainment, games and sports, John Newson, head of public sector partners, and Mark Jones, customer solution management lead.

Adae called on partners to “get comfortable being uncomfortable outside of traditional IT”. He returned to the idea of the power of three, which was mentioned throughout the earlier keynote sessions, to explain how the AWS partner community can create solutions together as the company moves more firmly into the AI era.

He said, “Different partner types, such as technology partners and consulting partners, can come together to ideate and create solutions that are going to deliver value for customers.”

This article appeared in our June 2024 print issue. You can read the magazine in full here.