New app suite targets AWS enterprise customers

AWS wants to become more of a business adviser to its customers and plans to provide more options, thanks, in part, to an app suite currently in use by its in-house employees.

AWS plans to build and deploy an internal suite of web applications to deepen its relationship with enterprises and fend off cloud competitors, especially Microsoft.

The application suite will emanate from AWS' business development team for its internal employees' use. Details have emerged via recent AWS job postings for full-stack software development engineers. Business development is a term often used interchangeably with sales, but typically it combines sales, marketing and customer support practices to generate opportunities for growth. Amazon seeks to understand how it can add value for AWS enterprise customers from a business perspective, outside of additional services or enhanced features for existing ones.

"The AWS BD [business development] team has manually tested and proven a handful of these business recommendations, and now we're ready to build a suite of web tools that can scale these recommendations to customers and internal AWS employees around the globe," the postings stated. "Our goal is to build a suite of applications that empower employees to cultivate a deeper relationship with customers, turning Amazon into a strategic business partner, in addition to being a world-class cloud computing provider."

Public plans are still somewhat vague, and it's unclear how far along AWS is with this strategy. It did not respond to request for comment.

The company launched a phalanx of new services at its recent AWS re:Invent conference, as it has done in past years, and it showcased many large AWS enterprise customers. Despite its sizable market share lead in the cloud, though, AWS can't yet boast the same number of long-standing relationships in large enterprise IT shops as rivals Microsoft and IBM. The new app suite is an effort to foster such ties broadly across its customer base, particularly in the C-suite.

Deepak Mohan, analyst, IDCDeepak Mohan

"Microsoft and IBM can have deep conversations with their customers just because of how long they have worked together," said Deepak Mohan, an analyst at IDC.

AWS already has some applications and tools for customers to track cloud spending and to model how an on-premises workload might look when pushed into the AWS enterprise cloud. However, the effort described in these job postings appears to surpass these measures with a more consultative aim.

What can this app suite do for AWS enterprise customers?

Companies that are essentially all-in on AWS likely do not view the platform as merely outsourced IT infrastructure, but as a foundation for their business for decades to come.

Microsoft and IBM can have deep conversations with their customers just because of how long they have worked together.
Deepak Mohananalyst, IDC

This echoes Amazon's broader approach in other lines of business to step into customers' shoes and help them derive value from Amazon services, Mohan said.

"They have done this in many ways on the retail side and in the early days of AWS," he said. "Now, they are extending this to develop next-generation applications for their customers so that the customers can, in turn, improve the experience of their downstream customers."

AWS also wants to foster adoption of cloud-native application architectures for enterprise IT use cases, and these apps will truly take advantage of the flexibility and capabilities of the AWS platform, Mohan said.

The new app suite will indeed make heavy use of AWS offerings. Preferred candidates will have experience with the likes of EC2, S3, DynamoDB, Lambda and Elasticsearch, according to the job posts.

Will the AWS application suite help customers understand pricing?

One big question is how much the internal app suite will tackle AWS enterprise customers' concerns over cost management. The company has long been criticized for its complex, even opaque price lists that can lead to nasty surprises for customers when the bill arrives. Despite the presence of AWS' existing tools, a cottage industry of third-party vendors has cropped up around AWS cost management.

AWS also has many partners that help customers plan and migrate workload shifts to the cloud, as well as consulting programs from the likes of Deloitte that focus on big-picture digital transformation strategies, with AWS as a foundation.

It's unclear how far the new internal app suite will encroach on these areas, but it will give customers more AWS-native options -- and surely keep some partners on their toes.

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