AWS is pursuing a wide-ranging set of partnering initiatives aimed at capitalizing on generative AI, speeding up customers' technology adoption and boosting partners' profitability. The moves come as demand for cloud services cools somewhat in an uncertain economy.
Recent AWS partner ecosystem developments include the following:
- The cloud provider has extended its partnership with data cloud vendor Snowflake to invest in a combined go-to-market strategy. As part of that alliance, AWS is now matching Snowflake with systems integrators that specialize in that platform.
- AWS earlier this month unveiled generative AI tools including Bedrock, a service that makes foundation models -- including Amazon's own generative models and those from third parties such as Stability AI -- accessible through an API. AWS plans to work with professional services partners in its effort to speed up the task of creating generative AI applications.
- The expansion of professional services sales in the AWS Marketplace continues. The marketplace first offered professional services in December 2020, and by mid-2021, 241 partners had listed such services on the AWS Marketplace. Today, 1,300 registered consulting partners offer more than 3,000 professional services through the marketplace.
"The AWS Marketplace is not just for ISVs," said Ruba Borno, vice president of worldwide channels and alliances at AWS. "We are getting systems integrators on there -- global systems integrators -- VARs and distributors."
Ruba BornoVice president, worldwide channels and alliances, AWS
A holistic partner view
Engagement across a wide swath of partners has been part of AWS' strategy in the marketplace and more generally in the AWS Partner Network. That approach also surfaces in the company's partnership with Snowflake and other ISVs.
"We are looking at our partner network holistically," Borno said. "With Snowflake and other ISVs, we have some initiatives in place now where we are working with them to match them up to systems integrators."
In Snowflake's case, the goal is to create tri-party deals in which AWS, Snowflake and an integrator will jointly work with customers to help them realize value faster, Borno said.
"That is something that we are continuing to invest in and build on," she added. "We've had early conversations on that with a broad set of systems integrator partners and ISVs, and we will continue to be formalizing some of those routes to market."
Patrick Buell, co-founder and vice president of consulting at Hakkoda, a Snowflake systems integrator and MSP, said the expanded AWS-Snowflake partnership will "drive verticalized innovation use cases" across the modern data stack.
Customers, he said, are shifting their focus from legacy migrations -- moving from aging, on-premises data warehouses to cloud data platforms -- to "tactical solutions" addressing problems specific to particular industries. Those industries include healthcare and life sciences, media and advertising, telecommunications, and financial services.
"AWS and Snowflake's collaboration is a natural move in an industry moving beyond adolescence and toward recognizing the full potential of machine learning, AI and cloud computing writ large," Buell said.
Generative AI partnering
AWS' developments in generative AI also have a partnering dimension. The company's April product launches include Bedrock, available in limited preview; two large language models for its Amazon Titan offering; and CodeWhisperer, an AI coding assistant that's now generally available.
"Our thesis is we want to democratize access to generative AI for customers," Borno said. "We are working with partners on this."
An AWS blog post describing its AI offerings noted "partners like Accenture, Deloitte, Infosys, and Slalom are building practices to help enterprises go faster with generative AI."
Accenture is working with AWS' large language model offerings across industries and business functions such as banking, retail, health, supply chain, customer service and sustainability, noted Andy Tay, global lead for Accenture's AWS business group. He said AWS' investment in AI and machine learning in conjunction with Accenture's industry, data and AI skills will "deliver faster value for clients."
Partnering in the cloud economy
AWS partner moves come amid moderating cloud revenue growth. AWS, Google and Microsoft all reported lower quarterly growth rates for their most recent reporting periods. AWS, for example, saw a 20% increase in fourth-quarter revenue compared with a 27.5% uptick in the previous quarter.
The cloud's future prospects, however, could get a lift from emerging technologies. Gartner last week reported that cloud computing will drive the "next phase of digital business" as organizations take on developments such as generative AI.
Gartner's worldwide public cloud spending forecast, published last week, pegs spending growth at 21.7% in 2023, when the company predicts the market will reach nearly $600 billion.
AWS makes partner program changes
AWS, meanwhile, is also making structural changes to its partner programs. Those channel initiatives stem from plans to transform the partner experience, which the company outlined last year at AWS re:Invent. Those efforts include simplified partner programs and an updated partner portal.
"We have been focusing on making it easier to leverage programs and tools for partners," Borno said.
To that end, AWS aims to merge similar programs and their related requirements. The company, for example, is consolidating its AWS Competency, Managed Service Provider, Service Delivery and Service Ready programs into one AWS specialization.
Such consolidations will make it easier for partners to take advantage of program benefits that help them progress on AWS' Partner Profitability Framework. AWS rolled out the framework last year to guide partners as they evolve their business models from reselling to higher-margin services.
The updated portal, Partner Central 2.0, debuted in January and offers what Borno described as improved personalization. The portal provides a customized UI based on partner employees' roles and the AWS Partner Paths they pursue -- hardware, training, distribution, services and software.