AWS outlines roadmap to be a ‘force multiplier’ for partners

Ruba Borno and Stephen Orban reflect on 10 years of collaboration with technology giant's global partner network.
Ruba Borno (AWS)

Ruba Borno (AWS)

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its AWS Partner Network (APN) and Marketplace by looking back on key channel milestones while charting a path for the next decade ahead.

APN was launched in 2012 with a few hundred global partners but boasts over 100,000 partners now spanning across 150 countries, with expectations of even greater growth for the booming Asia Pacific region.

Channel Asia had an exclusive interview with AWS executives, Ruba Borno – vice president of Worldwide Partners – as well as Stephen Orban – general manager of AWS Marketplace, AWS Data Exchange, and Control Services – to chat about the top lessons from the past decade, and the vendor’s growth plans for its partner ecosystem.

Partners: The 'biggest force multiplier'

Borno believes there’s still massive growth potential for the cloud sector – referencing analyst reports, only a small percentage of workloads have migrated to the cloud, and there’s still over 85-95 per cent untapped revenue streams.

“It’s an incredible place to be for AWS,” said Borno, as AWS's last public financial statement reported company growth to be 40 per cent year-over-year, and yet countless opportunities remain for cloud partners.

“We do believe that partners are the biggest force multiplier for our customers,” she added. “We think that to capitalise on the market, and help customers transform and capitalise on the benefits of the cloud, we need our partners to support customers during the transition. We will continue to support our partner community and invest in our partners.”

Borno shared that AWS is focused on ensuring “top-down commitment” in addition to "actively listening" to partners to understand key engagement challenges while optimising the ecosystem's ability to deliver on the potential of cloud to customers.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that listening and working closely with partners will remain AWS' top strategy to enable continued success – cited as a top lesson from more than a decade of channel synergy.

"Why is this important?" Borno asked. "Because we define clear and focused areas of where we’re going to go-to-market with our partners. What are partners good at? What are the areas they shine in?”

Borno referenced Japan-based cloud integrator Classmethod – a premier partner with more than 500 AWS certifications – who signed a strategic collaboration agreement with the vendor. The born-in-the-cloud business is highly focused on customer segmentation – SMBs, digital-native organisations, and application service providers.

AWS works with Classmethod on joint co-selling opportunities in those areas, ensuring they have skilled talent by achieving the necessary certifications to “go really deep”, alongside retaining "vital technical credibility" with customers.

“What I love about it is the co-investment,” added Borno. “It’s not just about them investing – we put our money where our mouth is and co-invest with them to grow the business.

“Everything we do is about working backwards from the customer and that’s why we start with where the partner shines and how they want to build differentiation. From there, we establish a joint go-to-market and talent plan to deliver on customer needs.”

Marketplace as a ‘path forward’ for businesses

After investing in “working backwards” from the customer, how does AWS increase the likelihood of partner success in Asia Pacific?

Borno shared that with AWS Marketplace, which concurrently celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, partners and customers may experience a “path forward” for business transactions. Marketplace was launched in Australia, New Zealand and Japan last year.

The channel leader explained that the platform minimises and automates previously manual processes, such as managing invoices, thereby allowing partners to focus on growing their business with AWS and prioritising customer needs.

Orban, who has managed Marketplace for the past year, added that the service has come a long way since it first started out as an e-commerce experience. Over the years, the team learned quickly that customers wanted to build higher value relationships, and when they used the service, they were able to consolidate spending on an AWS invoice.

“Our partner community wanted us to automate more of the co-sell process,” said Orban. “Then, we would not just be automating private offers that go to the customer, but they'll think about sharing opportunities with their channel partners, and how they give them the opportunity to sell on their behalf. This has been particularly useful for ISVs who are based in the US and want to reach customers in Asia.”

What’s next?

Aligned to the vendor's obsession of being customer-centric and a desire to “dive deep” with partners, AWS is building out a “robust roadmap” to help the ecosystem expand services internationally, moving beyond country borders in the process.

“Simply, what we strive to deliver is the best partner experience worldwide,” said Borno. “I know our partners are the biggest force multiplier for AWS, and we want to be the biggest force multiplier for our partners.

“I think through our programs, innovation, and Marketplace, we believe that we can deliver on that promise. Given that less than 15 per cent of the workloads that can be migrated to the cloud are there, I think the path ahead of us is much greater than what’s behind us, so it’s still day one for us.”