Amazon Web Services (AWS) is addressing concerns from its partners that getting certified with the public cloud giant is too onerous.
Talking at CRN's European Channel Leadership Forum this week, Niko Mykkanen (pictured), director of alliances, channels and ecosystem EMEA at AWS, said that his team is looking at how to "modernise" the certification process for partners.
AWS has ploughed "tens of millions of dollars" into training partners on its technology this year, with the number of partner accreditations leaping 159 per cent year on year, Mykkanen explained.
Mykkanen said AWS will look to make the process for becoming certified easier, but without lowering the bar of difficulty.
"For us in Europe, in our business one of the biggest investments in the last 18 months has been to skill up this ecosystem," he said. "For us it's an expensive thing, and for you it's time consuming, but knowing that customers want you to have the most skilled people, this is a must.
"When I talk to many of you, I get feedback that our criteria to become certified are too high; the bar is too high. It is what it is. It's not going to change, and we're not going to lower the bar to get more people. What we are looking into is how we can make it easier for you. We completely understand that to put somebody into a training class for three days to learn about system architecture around cloud is a big investment. How we can modernise that is something we are working on."
After growing 42 per cent in its last quarter, AWS has a revenue run rate of $16bn, despite only existing for a little over a decade.
AWS is known for its direct and self-service-focused sales strategy, but Mykkanen claimed the vendor has always been channel friendly.
"What is not always remembered is that from day one our strategy has been to work with partners," he said.
"We are very light touch. We are probably the smallest sales organisation and smallest channel organisation compared with the traditional partners that are out there. And that's because from day one we've been assuming that the experts that really know the customers' businesses properly is you guys. You can talk to them in their own language and solve their problems."
Partner-influenced billed AWS revenue has risen 93 per cent for the year to date, Mykkanen said. The number of AWS Consulting and Managed Services Partners has risen by 110 and 130 per cent year on year respectively, he claimed, adding that partners delivering professional and managed services around big migration projects can expect to earn gross margins of up to 75 per cent.
Specialisation is paramount for AWS partners, Mykkanen said, and to this end AWS has created 16 competencies around which partners can build their AWS practices.
These include IoT, Migration, Security, Big Data, Storage, Microsoft Workloads, SAP Workloads, Oracle Workloads and DevOps, as well as several vertical industries including Government and Financial Services.
"Maybe two or three years ago it was fine to define you as AWS Premier or Advanced partners," Mykkanen said.
"Today it's not enough. Customers are pretty clear on what types of skill they expect the partner to bring to the table. The question I hear from our sales guys is 'I have an opportunity: I need the best big data partner in the UK'. The worst thing for all of us is to take on a project for a customer and don't have the understanding of what it means.
"We are disproportionately investing in those partners that are very clear on how they want to stand out. Of the tens of thousands of partners we have in Europe, the ones that have these skills are the ones that are going to show more at our events, on our web pages, in customer presentation etc. The customer chooses who they want to work with, but they want assurance from us that the partners are capable of delivering."
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