Amazon Web Services (AWS) has accredited its first pair of UK Premier Consulting partners in a move hailed as a sign of its increasingly mature attitude to the channel.
Despite being the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market's undisputed silverback, AWS only launched its first channel programme, the Amazon Partner Network, in March 2012 and had previously only handed Premier status to a small handful of global sourcing partners such as Wipro.
But at its annual re:Invent shindig in Las Vegas, which kicked off yesterday, AWS has named UK outfits Smart421 and CloudReach among its 22 Premier Consulting partners for 2014.
Joseph Spear, marketing manager at Smart421, said AWS had always had a pragmatic approach to the channel but until recently hadn't had formalised procedures in place in line with the likes of IBM, Oracle and Microsoft.
Bagging Premier status will be a "badge of honour" for Smart421's existing AWS customers, which include Aviva, the Association of Train Operating Companies and Haven Power, and act as a pull for potential new enterprise clients, Spear said.
Although AWS is notoriously tight-lipped over its numbers, some analysts have estimated it will turn over close to $4bn (£2.5bn) this year, making it the IaaS market's 800-pound gorilla.
That said, IaaS is becoming an increasingly crowded space, with both Microsoft and Google moving in for the kill – the former having promised to match AWS' prices – and IBM taking aim at AWS via a cloud marketing campaign, according to reports.
"There is a heightened competitive threat coming from Windows Azure and some other emerging players," Spear said. "However, the magnetic effect of AWS is irresistible. AWS remains the biggest kid on the block."
According to AWS, Premier Consulting partners must have "distinguished themselves by investing significantly in their AWS practice, providing exceptional customer service, helping a large number of significant customers run their applications on top of AWS, and building a healthy revenue-generating consulting business on AWS".
Other Premier partners include big global names such as Accenture, Capgemini and Cognizant and Infosys.
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