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AWS Marketplace, partners get new leadership

AWS Marketplace's newly appointed general manager plans to broaden the digital catalog's offerings and focus on governance.

The new leader of AWS Marketplace aims to expand listings on the digital catalog, where more than 1,600 ISVs and a growing group of consulting partners sell their products and professional services.

Stephen Orban last month became general manager for AWS Marketplace. He was previously general manager of AWS Data Exchange, a role he will maintain along with general manager duties for AWS Control Services and AWS IQ (AIQ). AWS Data Exchange, launched in 2019, lets customers subscribe to third-party data in the cloud from providers such as Reuters and Transunion. AIQ, meanwhile, lets customers request help from AWS Certified freelancers and consulting firms. 

David McCann, formerly responsible for AWS Marketplace, will serve in an advisory role until the end of May, according to AWS. The management change comes as e-commerce expands in the pandemic era and AWS Marketplace partners report digital sales growth.

Stephen Orban Stephen Orban

A growing market

Over the past year, AWS Marketplace has grown to offer more than 10,000 listings across 50 categories. ISVs currently serve more than 310,000 active customers who have purchased two million subscriptions. Orban said he plans to further expand the selection of offerings and "continue to mature how we go to market with ISV partners."

The latter focus will involve conducting lead-generation campaigns with ISVs and closer ties between partners and the AWS field team to support customers' AWS migrations, Orban noted.

Consulting partners, meanwhile, have begun to play a larger role in AWS Marketplace. At its current pace, AWS said it anticipates having more than 1,000 consultants participating in AWS Marketplace partner programs by the end of 2021. AWS categorizes such partners as professional, consulting or managed service firms that support customers' cloud journeys.

In December 2020, AWS Marketplace began offering professional services, including assessment, implementation and third-party software support. Since then, 241 partners have listed their professional services on AWS Marketplace. The roster of sellers incudes Lemongrass, Presidio, Rackspace, SHI, Softcat PLC, ThunderCat Technology and VoiceFoundry.

Not all of those 241 partners are consulting firms, however. ISV partners also sell professional services, such as support and training, on AWS Marketplace. The opposite is also true. Consulting partners like Wipro sell software in the market. That pattern seems likely to continue. Third-wave cloud consultancies, in general, are looking to cultivate their own intellectual property, developing repeatable and often verticalized offerings.

Over the last year, we've seen organizations shift to multi-cloud and hybrid environments at accelerated rates.
Bill HustadVice president of alliances and channel ecosystems, Splunk

In another variation, ISVs collaborate with their channel partners on offerings sold through AWS Marketplace. Splunk, a cloud-based data platform company headquartered in San Francisco, has sold Splunk Cloud via AWS Marketplace since 2017. The company also works with partners to sell joint offerings in the online market. Carahsoft, a government IT solutions provider based in Reston, Va., resells Splunk and offers Splunk Cloud as its listing on AWS Marketplace, said Bill Hustad, vice president of alliances and channel ecosystems at Splunk. 

Working with the AWS Marketplace has boosted Splunk's business during the pandemic, Hustad noted. The company experienced 84% year-over-year growth in cloud annual recurring revenue during its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended in January 2021.

"Over the last year, we've seen organizations shift to multi-cloud and hybrid environments at accelerated rates," Hustad said.

Private offers take off

The pandemic-driven shift to digital commerce isn't the only factor driving marketplace sales. Private offers, a purchasing program that lets sellers and buyers negotiate pricing and terms, has contributed to "step change growth" in AWS Marketplace transactions, Orban noted. The addition of automation has made it easier to amend standard SaaS contracts.

Those contract changes can reduce customers' costs. A study of Snowflake customers, for instance, found their use of private offers resulted in 3-year savings of $167,863. AWS and Snowflake commissioned the study, which Forrester Consulting conducted. Forrester interviewed eight Snowflake customers and calculated the return on investment for a "composite organization" purchasing Snowflake, a cloud-based data warehouse, through the AWS Marketplace.

Private offers let an organization "build relationships with ISVs" and "secure preferred price discounts," according to Forrester.

Consulting partners can also negotiate private offers with customers through AWS Marketplace. Partners such as MSPs, however, have been reluctant to sell services online, arguing that their offerings are highly customized and can't be offered via e-commerce.

The private offers program allows for custom transactions, said Chris Grusz, director of business development for AWS Marketplace. "It is very bespoke," he said. "We've seen really good adoption."

AWS said it will add capabilities to make it easier for customers and channel partners to conduct private offer transactions. Those changes include "flexible payment schedules for credit card customers and adding more automation for consulting partner private offers to accelerate time-to-contract," according to AWS. The company will also add a free-trial option to more products.

Governance boost, international growth

Going forward, AWS Marketplace will "continue to double down on governance," Orban said. "We are continuing to hear that [customers] want us to do more in the space" so they can govern the cloud at scale, he added.

AWS Marketplace already lets cloud admins manage purchase limits and user activities, consolidate transactions and curate parts of the catalog as a private marketplace. Customers can also manage entitlements, distributing software licenses across AWS accounts.

AWS is gearing up its channel partners to take on governance, Orban noted. For example, the company works with third-party ISVs to integrate AWS Control Tower, a service for setting up and governing a secure, multi-account AWS environment.

Looking forward, Orban also cited AWS Marketplace's ongoing international expansion. AWS Marketplace has launched in newly opened AWS regions. To become an AWS Marketplace seller, a company must register as a permanent resident, citizen or business entity incorporated in a supported country, according to AWS.

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