AWS partners get skills-building, co-selling investment

The cloud platform provider aims to address the challenging labor market, which it views as the primary obstacle to partner growth; other IT channel news.

AWS is boosting its partner investment in the critical areas of cultivating technical talent and ramping up sales.

The company's actions come as partners seek to build pools of expertise in a difficult labor market and sell their services through new forms of collaboration. AWS Partner Network and AWS Marketplace, which both launched 10 years ago, play a role in the latest phase of channel outreach.

Ruba BornoRuba Borno

AWS partners cite maintaining IT skills as their top challenge, according to Ruba Borno, vice president of worldwide channels and alliances at AWS. Borno joined AWS from Cisco in December 2021 and has since met with dozens of partners. "Their number one barrier to growth is having sufficient talent," she said.

Investing in cloud skills

AWS now "co-invests" to help partners establish AWS certifications, build specializations and launch practices, Borno said. She pointed to Accenture, Capgemini, Deloitte, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services as examples of companies with AWS cloud practices. The cloud provider's objective is to make sure such companies have the expertise they need to support customers, she noted.

Borno also pointed to a strategic collaboration agreement announced earlier this year with Presidio, a digital services and solutions provider based in New York. Co-investing to build out Presidio's AWS expertise is fundamental to that agreement, she said. With AWS' support, the services provider launched Presidio Academy, which puts technical school graduates through a training regimen that covers cloud offerings and AWS' cloud adoption strategy.

Chris CagnazziChris Cagnazzi

About 90 people have gone through the academy in the past four months, according to Chris Cagnazzi, senior vice president and general manager of digital business at Presidio. Presidio employs more than 540 AWS-certified cloud engineers.

[AWS is] really trying to help partners either upskill existing staff or develop plans for how they're going to recruit and get staff in such a tight labor market.
Chris CagnazziSenior vice president and general manager of digital business, Presidio

AWS has done a good job on training, enablement and certification programs, Cagnazzi said. The company is "really trying to help partners either upskill existing staff or develop plans for how they're going to recruit and get staff in such a tight labor market," he added.

"Hiring externally and growing from within are important investments we're making with AWS," said Bob Olwig, executive vice president of global partner alliances at World Wide Technology, a technology services provider based in St. Louis. AWS certifications and specialties provide a framework for gaining expertise, he added, noting key services in high demand include migration and cloud optimization.

AWS, meanwhile, encourages partners to develop specific cloud skills such as security services. The company's Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) Competency, launched in August 2021, has tapped partners such as Accenture, Deloitte and IBM to provide 24/7 monitoring of AWS resources. MSSP competency partners can offer their services on AWS Marketplace.

Some partners include ISV offerings in their security services. IBM, for example, provides security posture management, best practices and compliance services on AWS Marketplace and lists Palo Alto Networks' Prisma Cloud and Check Point's ColorGuard Posture Management as associated software products.

WWT generated $48 million in AWS Marketplace sales in 2021. Olwig said the marketplace will remain an important focus for the company, citing its core business with cybersecurity ISVs such as CrowdStrike and Palo Alto Networks as well as Cisco and NetApp.

Stephen OrbanStephen Orban

Stephen Orban, vice president of AWS Marketplace, said customers are purchasing security offerings bundled with managed services. The growth of AWS' MSSP program stems from customer demand for security tools as well as expertise in applying them, according to the company.

Co-selling with partners

AWS is also providing additional support for co-selling, an arrangement in which partners collaborate with AWS' field sellers. With co-selling, AWS works with partners to identify the customer segments, vertical markets or horizontal markets where they can add the most value, Borno said. Partners also use AWS Marketplace to augment co-selling relationships.

Cagnazzi said AWS is on a "good journey" with its co-selling effort. "They've been pushing [co-selling] downstream through all their regional directors, but it takes time for that full adoption at the field level," he said.

But the cloud provider's initiative is now generating business. The percentage of Presidio professional services engagements involving co-selling is in the high 90s, Cagnazzi said. "We're talking about a joint strategy with AWS to drive the joint outcome," he added.

WWT's collaboration and co-investment with AWS includes co-selling and marketing and services development, Olwig said.

GFT partners with Google in manufacturing

GFT, an IT services and software engineering company, is partnering with Google Cloud to deploy the hyperscaler's manufacturing industry offerings.

Google Cloud rolled out its Manufacturing Data Engine and Manufacturing Connect platforms on May 5. Manufacturing Data Engine acquires data from a factory's machines and provides a data lakehouse for storage. Manufacturing Connect, a factory-edge platform, connects with manufacturing assets through a library of more than 250 machine protocols. The platform translates machine data and sends it to the Manufacturing Data Engine for processing and storage.

GFT offers professional services, implementation and customization around Google's manufacturing offerings, said Marco Santos, president of GFT USA and Latin America. GFT is based in Stuttgart, Germany. In 2021, GFT tapped Santos to grow the company's business in the Americas region.

NTT launches IoT services

NTT Ltd., a London-based technology services provider, unveiled its IoT services for sustainability, including optical character recognition meter readings, water leak management, predictive maintenance and environmental monitoring.

Businesses can use data-driven predictive insights on water, electricity and gas consumption and emissions to reach their sustainability goals, reduce their carbon footprint and save on energy costs. NTT Ltd. appointed Devin Young, senior vice president of group enterprise IoT products and services, and Vicky Bullivant, senior vice president of group sustainability, to the company's IoT and sustainability initiatives.

Partners are rolling out sustainability consulting services and technology tools for companies pursuing decarbonization initiatives.

Partner roster updates

  • D&H Distributing, based in Harrisburg, Pa., launched its Modern Solutions Business Unit to provide business applications, infrastructure, collaboration and security offerings. The distributor's application focus will include vendors such as Microsoft, Google, AvePoint, BitTitan, SkyKick, AirSlate, Corel and Opsgility. Infrastructure offerings come from vendors including Cisco, Microsoft (Azure), Cameyo, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CloudCheckr and Nerdio. Collaboration vendors include Avaya, Cisco, Dropbox, Intermedia, Jabra, Logitech, Neat, Lenovo, Nextiva, RingCentral and Yealink. Security providers include Cisco, ConnectWise, ESET, Microsoft, Proofpoint, SonicWall, Sophos, Vade Secure and Webroot.
  • 2nd Watch, a cloud services company with headquarters in Seattle, has rolled out support for Amazon EKS Blueprints, which AWS describes as a collection of infrastructure-as-code modules for deploying Elastic Kubernetes Services AWS selected a handful of AWS partners to help customers adopt and customize EKS Blueprints to meet their requirements, according to 2nd Watch.
  • Pythian Services, a cloud, data and analytics services company based in Ottawa, has been named a partner for Google Cloud Cortex Framework. Other companies selected as framework partners include Cognizant and Infosys. The framework provides reference architectures for accelerating Google Cloud deployment.
  • Wrike, a collaborative work management platform provider in Austin, Texas, inked an agreement with Ingram Micro Cloud. Wrike will offer its platform on the Ingram Micro Cloud Marketplace, initially working with U.S. resellers and then expanding its global reach. Citrix acquired Wrike in 2021.

Partner program launches and updates

  • Cisco has embedded five Cisco Partner Journeys as a component of its partner landing page. Each journey consolidates content, resources, tools and processes across Cisco, the company said. The journeys include co-selling with Cisco, building offerings on Cisco's technology, qualifying partner offerings for the Meraki Marketplace, using Cisco Marketing Velocity's suite of enablement tools, and building a managed services practice using Cisco's Provider Elevate program, according to a Cisco blog post.
  • NetSuite, a business technology vendor based in San Mateo, Calif., launched its SuiteLife Campus training program for new college graduates or career change candidates in North America and Europe. In a six-week instructor-led course costing $4,000, partners' employees with less than two years of industry experience will develop expertise through foundational training in accounting, consulting, NetSuite products and NetSuite deployment methodology. SuiteLife Campus classes will be available to other regions in the coming year, according to NetSuite.
  • Qualys, a cloud security company based in Foster City, Calif., bolstered its partner program for managed security service providers, MSPs, value-added resellers, distribution partners and vendors. The program enhancements include structured benefit and protection programs, technical certifications, and access to the Qualys cloud platform and more than 20 IT, security and compliance apps.

Executive appointments

  • Insight Enterprises, a solutions integrator in Chandler, Ariz., appointed Dee Burger as president of its North America business. Burger joins insight from Capgemini, where she was most recently executive vice president of global business lines in North America.
  • Tata Consultancy Services, with headquarters in Mumbai, India, appointed Alexandra Whittington as a futurist in its TCS North America business. Whittington was previously a lecturer at the University of Houston.
  • NinjaOne, an Austin, Texas, company that provides an IT operations platform for MSPs, has appointed Adam Slutskin as chief channel advisor. Slutskin was formerly chief revenue office at ConnectWise and Liongard.
  • CompassMSP, a managed services and cybersecurity provider with headquarters in Hartford, Conn., named Donald Swartz as its COO responsible for service delivery, as well as client experience and retention. Swartz brings almost 40 years of experience in operational transformation, growth strategies and IT strategy.

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