Aussie partners weigh in on AWS's partner program overhaul, new offerings

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Aussie partners weigh in on AWS's partner program overhaul, new offerings

Amazon Web Services’ re:Invent conference this year, which was partially held in person for the first time since 2019, had a number of announcements specific to its channel partners, including an overhauled partner program and new competencies.

The hyperscaler replaced its consulting and technology partner types with five new paths set to launch next year, aiming to streamline the program and simplify partner engagement. The new 'migration and modernisation' competency was unveiled, while 'energy' was made generally available.

Product launches include a legacy workload migration tool, Mainframe Modernization, and a serverless version of analytics service Amazon Redshift. Amazon Managed Streaming for Apache Kafka and big data platform Amazon EMR also got new serverless versions.

Locally, AWS launched a ‘Data Lab’, aimed to help customers through in-house data experts to collaborate data projects using AWS services.

CRN spoke to a number of Australian AWS partners to get their thoughts on how the new announcements would impact their businesses and their AWS specialists.

NEXTGEN Group, one of AWS’ local distributors, welcomed the announcements as an “exciting” time for the AWS channel ecosystem as a whole.

“[The partner program overhaul] indicates a significant shift in the evolution of AWS go-to-market and the AWS partner program as they continue to scale and drive innovation through their channel partners,” NEXTGEN head of cloud Emma Davidson told CRN.

“It also reflects what we see here across the ANZ markets: AWS putting a greater focus on their partners and the value and outcomes channel partners drive for AWS customers.”

Davidson added that NEXTGEN has noticed AWS has increasingly expanded and diversified its partner offerings to be more aligned with customer needs.

“These new paths will help unlock programs and benefits that directly align to a customer offering model vs a partner-type model, therefore, providing a simplified and intuitive engagement experience for partners,” she added.

“For distribution, the new AWS partner program sees us represented with our path. The Distribution Path recognises and measures distribution in alignment with the offers and services we bring to market to support channel partners and their customer offerings across multiple paths.

“As partners continue to build and enhance their offerings, AWS distributors will play a critical role in aggregating and orchestrating the AWS channel and, through our services, help partners scale and grow.”

Speaking on AWS skills, NEXTGEN chief technology officer James Cunial said the hyperscaler releases new capabilities on a regular basis, and AWS professionals should keep up as much as possible.

“Every hour of every day of every month in a year, AWS is releasing new capabilities. AWS professionals need to have a habit of education to keep on top of the innovation,” Cunial said.

“Thankfully, AWS has some of the best enablement programs and technical documentation of any vendor I've ever worked with, so there is no shortage of material to dive into. The AWS Partner Solution Architects are some of the most capable and approachable technical enablers I've ever had the pleasure of working with.”

Adam Durbin, co-CEO of Sydney-based cloud specialist CMD Solutions, took notice of the new AWS partner pathways.

“At CMD, we have been an AWS partner for over six years and seen the AWS partner ecosystem and partner team go through significant change and growth. The announcement of the AWS Partner Pathways is a great step forward to enable both AWS and its partners to focus more on the specialised and diverse offerings they provide,” Durbin told CRN.

“We see this as an opportunity to grow further specialisation in areas such as training which is a big focus for both ourselves and our customers.”

CMD is a purely AWS house and Durbin said the company always looks at re:Invent as a big step forward in the vendor’s offerings, particularly around AI and machine learning, data, security, migration and modernisation.

“As an all-in AWS partner, the continued growth in services is a highlight for our team in ways that we can support our customers. The introduction of additional serverless offerings such as Amazon MSK and Amazon EMR this year again lifts the requirements for IT professionals working with AWS,” Durbin added.

“The removal of the requirement to build and manage undifferentiated infrastructure services forces the focus of skill development and training to concentrate on higher level services and business problems.”

Victoria Bergin, director of strategic partnerships at Melbourne-based Versent, said the company was excited to access the benefits of the new AWS Partner model. “The new streamlined process will help deliver value-add services and simplified engagement processes for our customers,” she told CRN.

The Mainframe Modernisation service was also a highlight for Versent, citing the elastic mainframe service to simplify migrations from legacy mainframes to AWS.

“Prior to the service’s launch, there hasn’t been a consolidated platform to facilitate the migration. Versent will be working with our customers to explore this service and how it can bring reliability and scalability to our customer’s mainframes and start the modernisation journey for these workloads,” Bergin said.

“There are approximately 60 mainframes in Australia running critical workloads and, with the launch of this service, it provides new opportunities to bring the reliability, scalability and efficiency of deployment that AWS provides to these workloads.”

For Versent’s AWS specialists, Versent partner for data and advisory David Hanus pointed to the ANZ Data Lab and the new serverless offerings as notable additions to their expertise.

On serverless analytics for Redshift, EMR and MKS, Hanus told CRN, “This service announcement provides benefits to Versent engineers instantly by taking away the undifferentiated heavy lifting of provisioning the infrastructure that underlines these services saving weeks of development time.”

“It benefits our customers by providing a cost model that is a pure pay for what you use and provides cost savings instantly. It will allow for both our engineers and customers to focus on innovating on these services rather than managing the underlying infrastructure that makes up these services.”

Hanus added the ANZ Data Lab was also a welcome addition for Versent and for the local partner ecosystem as a whole, particularly for data teams.

“[Data Lab] provides data teams with a fantastic opportunity to test ideas before embarking on the larger journey toward implementing trusted, reliable and scalable analytic solutions. Data Lab will provide companies with more options to deepen their knowledge of the AWS ecosystem, refine their solution approaches and ultimately increase their chances of success,” Hanus said.

“At Versent, we firmly believe that applying deep expertise in cloud and analytics is the best recipe for successful outcomes. We always strive to work closely with AWS and our customers to ensure that every step of their data journey is delivered ‘Done-Done’ by applying the right data patterns in the cloud and combining them with modern ways of working that scale reliably with our customer organisational needs.”

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