The motivations behind AWS' channel expansion plans have been misinterpreted, according to the cloud giant's technology evangelist, Ian Massingham.
Talking to CRN about an array of topics - including price cuts, how AWS' recently launched London datacentre region is faring, and its channel philosophy - Massingham took umbrage at suggestions that AWS is using the channel as a vehicle to scale its business.
According to analyst Canalys, AWS and Google are both embracing the channel as they seek to exploit the "next phase of cloud adoption".
It argued that focusing more on partners will be the only way the cloud giants, some of which don't have a background in enterprise IT, can maintain their frenetic growth rates. AWS grew 43 per cent in Q1, Canalys said, and Google by 74 per cent.
"I think the statement is true that we have an increasing number of partners that are working with AWS," Massingham said.
"But I think the rationale that this is an AWS-centric activity that we would initiate because we want to sell more stuff is not the reason we are doing it. We are doing it because customers want to move more quickly than they can move alone, and partners can play a really important role in helping customers accelerate their adoption and therefore deliver the benefits that cloud offers."
AWS now commonly counts as a top vendor for many traditional resellers and services firms, with Computacenter, for instance, having built a 50-strong European AWS practice.
Massingham said partners are reacting to customer demand.
"I've asked thousands and thousands of customers over the course of the last year: 'if you were starting your own business tomorrow, how many of you would do it with infrastructure you owned and operated'? One or two people in the last year have put their hand up in response to that question," he said.
"That validates how compelling cloud is. It's just a better way to access and use technology than the traditional approaches. And because everybody gets this, it means there are constraints in skills. There aren't enough AWS experts around today to help customers move as quickly as they can. So partners can play a really important role in helping customers get to that new reality by bringing in the skills they've been able to hone through repeated engagements. It's typical of a mid-sized partner to have 50-plus certified AWS experts on staff."
AWS launched a new London datacentre region last December, which Massingham said had "definitely had a positive impact on usage in the public sector".
The kind of capacity constraints AWS customers using the London region experienced around one particular instance in March are "very rare", and in any case would not have any impact on customers' compliance or data sovereignty requirements, Massingham said.
"Sometimes when we introduce a new service or instance type, like the R4, there's very high demand for those new machines on day one," he explained. "But just because a customer can't launch a particular instance in a particular region, that doesn't mean AWS is moving any data out of the region to another location, and it's important to be accurate about that."
In regulatory terms, for most UK public sector workloads there is parity in whether the service is operated in the UK or elsewhere in the EU, Massingham said.
"The big difference with having the UK region is that it allows customers to use us for some of those workload categories where that wasn't the case," he explained. "I'm particularly talking here about things such as health data, where that would need to be stored in the UK."
Some UK commercial customers have also benefited from being able to operate services closer to home, Massingham said.
"The closer you get your applications to your users, the better the performance level will be. Trainline are a really interesting example of this," he said. "They identified that a third of a second of additional latency in their app results in a revenue drop-off of about £10m, so they want to have the best possible performance."
The 61st cut is the deepest
AWS has made 61 price reductions over 11 years of operating, but customers can also effectively save money by switching to new generations of products, Massingham stressed.
"As customers move onto the later generations, the costs often remain on parity more or less," he said. "If you take M3 large to M4 large, the cost per hour is more or less the same, but the M4 large features newer processing technology, so the effective cost per CPU cycle drops away, and those can be quite a substantial reduction in their own right."
Massingham said the number of AWS partners is "growing rapidly", adding that many are investing heavily in skills and training.
"There is definitely a distinction between the way in which partners operate in the cloud, and the way they operated historically with hardware and software resale," he said. "The margin levels with AWS are substantially lower, so you can't artificially carve that profit out. So the model is value added. What partners do is accelerate the delivery for customers - it's more of a consulting-based model."
Massingham added: "But it's not just about people, but also the IP that the partners are developing that enables them to build a better service quality of customers on top of our platform. Rackspace are a really good example of a partner that has developed their own IP. They have their own tools to aid them in deploying and managing AWS on behalf of their customers."
The deal builds on distie's earlier promise to distribute a broader range of electrical goods
Services firm sees revenue increase 23 per cent
Execs Zak Virdi and Neil Lomax open up on the rationale behind acquisition
CEO Steve Brazier slams vendor titans at annual event in Barcelona