AWS partner program targets cloud migration of ISV workloads

A new AWS cloud migration program is geared to bring ISV application workloads to the platform, and offers a financial incentive for cloud migrations that go well.

AWS has introduced a cloud migration program to help partners move independent software vendor (ISV) workloads to its platform, amid intense competition from Microsoft and Google Cloud.

The AWS ISV Workload Migration Program is intended to create repeatable cloud migration plans for specific enterprise application workloads so partners and customers can complete projects faster and cheaper. AWS's Partner Solutions Architect team will work alongside partners to develop these technical playbooks, AWS said in a blog post.

As with other AWS partner programs, partners must meet certain qualifications to participate. As a baseline, they must be designated under AWS's Select, Advanced or Premier partner tiers. Second, partners must show they can successfully deploy the ISV workload in question, including from an on-premises installation. The workload also must be listed on the AWS marketplace, exist as a managed AWS service, or able to deploy there via an ISV's 'bring your own license (BYOL) program. The program also mandates that each cloud migration should generate at least $36,000 in annual recurring revenue for AWS within a year.

In turn, AWS will invest up to 15% of that post-migration revenue to help cut customers' costs, with the amount dependent on the workload and the migration project's complexity, AWS said.

Some aspects of the program are far from new ideas, but AWS's willingness to give back money in connection with successful cloud migrations is a fairly novel way to drive innovation, customer experience and partner loyalty, said Jay McBain, an analyst with Forrester Research.

"In the smallest SMB deal with a $3,000 a month customer, $500 of that could be in play," he said. "[But] you go up to a million-dollar customer, and you're talking real dollars."

Expect Microsoft and Google to follow suit with similar ideas. "It's a land grab right now for all cloud opportunities," McBain said. "Such financial incentives] will become table stakes."

AWS partner Apps Associates, which has expertise with migrations of Oracle applications to the cloud, is not an initial participant in the program but will eventually take part, said Bill Saltys, senior vice president of alliances at the company in Acton, Mass.

Migration templates like the ones AWS envisions the program will produce are key, according to Saltys. "You have smaller ISV-type situations where [the migration] is, 'Push a button and you're done,'" he said. "For Oracle and SAP [applications] it's never going to be that easy."

AWS intensifies its channel courtship

Microsoft has an experience edge over AWS and Google Cloud when it comes to the channel. Ninety-five percent of its commercial revenue moves through partners, and each month 7,500 partners join its ecosystem.

Still, Microsoft remains far behind AWS in terms of cloud revenue, and AWS is keen to keep its lead, especially in a market where more customers and partners plan to pursue multicloud strategies.

Enterprise application workloads such as ERP are crucial to AWS's continued growth, given their importance to a customer's business and typically large and complex technical footprint. A company that shifts its Oracle or SAP installation to a public cloud successfully is unlikely to move off anytime soon. It's also a fairly safe bet they will adopt other services the cloud provider offers.

Earlier this month, Microsoft and Oracle unveiled a partnership around interoperability between their clouds. The goal is to make it easier for customers to run Oracle application workloads on Azure, but keep Oracle database instances, particularly those powered by Exadata appliances, on Oracle Cloud.

That deal is pragmatic for both companies. Oracle has struggled to make money with its IaaS offering, and doesn't compete closely with Microsoft on ERP at the higher end. In turn, Microsoft wants those ERP workloads for Azure, and the two companies share many customers.

The AWS ISV program represents another aspect of how cloud vendors, ISVs and IT services providers must interact in today's market, according to Holger Mueller, an analyst with Constellation Research in Cupertino, Calif.

"Instead of [AWS] working with the ISV and the ISV providing the support, this is migration of BYOL with a partner," Mueller said. This has been a common arrangement, but providers like AWS tend to keep it quiet lest they anger ISV partners, he added.

For customers, the migration program has clear pros, but one potential con, Mueller said.

"The good news is that you can get help when you want to move stuff to places your [ISV] is not going yet or doesn't want to go," he said. "But it's bad, because you may end up on a too-eager custom port that becomes obsolete when the vendor and IaaS player get together."

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