Generative AI took center stage at AWS' annual cloud event, with the company's ecosystem partners ready to integrate, accelerate and put an industry-specific spin on the technology.
Developments at AWS re:Invent, which concludes today in Las Vegas, included the launch of Amazon Q, which lets the cloud provider offer a generative AI assistant along the lines of Microsoft Copilot and Google's Duet AI. AWS partners see the potential to integrate Amazon Q into their platforms, and some discussed intentions to do so.
Partners also took the wraps off tools that aim to speed up generative AI adoption for customers. In addition, AWS and its partners emphasized the importance of industry orientation for bringing this emerging technology to enterprise customers.
The conference wasn't entirely devoted to AI, however. Partners also cited the importance of AWS competencies, which aim to help the company's ecosystem participants differentiate. A new AWS Resilience Competency, which focuses on improving the availability of critical workloads in the cloud, drew a round of applause during the partner keynote address.
AWS Marketplace, meanwhile, continues to serve as an important outlet for partner sales – IT services as well as software – and a springboard to larger projects, according to partners at re:Invent. AWS Marketplace has been offering professional services since 2020.
Amazon Q was, perhaps, the GenAI development attracting the most partner attention at the conference. Accenture, for example, rolled out a service that will use Amazon Q to accelerate the generative AI adoption in use cases such as software development and application modernization.
Andy Tay, who leads the Accenture Cloud First group, cited Accenture research that found 97% of the C-suite executives polled view generative AI as a transformative element that will boost market share. "But to really get the value from it, we've got to help them figure out ways to adapt and adopt the technology into their environment," he said during a re:Invent presentation.
Randall HuntVice president of cloud strategy and innovation at Caylent
To that end, Accenture plans to "enable up to 50,000" of its development engineers on Amazon Q, Tay said. Those engineers will receive training on other AWS AI services as well. He said Accenture will also embed AWS' generative AI capabilities into its integrated automation platform.
Caylent, a cloud services company in Irvine, Calif., plans to integrate Amazon Q into its MeteorAI framework, which launched at re:Invent. The framework accelerates the development of internal and consumer-facing generative AI applications, according to the company.
"Q is particularly exciting as a new brand and vehicle for AWS to power generative AI functionality in many different services," said Randall Hunt, vice president of cloud strategy and innovation at Caylent.
Other service providers also rated Amazon Q as an important development.
Ricardo Casanovas Ortega, vice president of product innovation at Syntax, a technology solutions and services provider based in Montreal, said Amazon Q will drastically change how his company works with AWS.
He cited the example of Syntax's cloud architects who work daily with AWS Management Console, launching servers and configuring settings. Amazon Q's integration with AWS Management Console will let architects use the natural language interface to ask the best way to configure those settings. The Amazon Q link could potentially help architects do their job faster and make their tasks less error prone, Casanovas said.
"It will be like a companion for the architects," he noted.
The importance of industry-specific offerings was a subcurrent beneath the conference's AI theme.
"Getting their data strategy right for their specific industry is a top challenge for companies trying to navigate how they can adopt generative AI," said Chris Wegmann, global technology lead for the AWS business group at Accenture. "Some large banks and healthcare clients are already talking to us about building their own foundation models. They need more domain-specific models to drive their AI agendas."
In the pharmaceutical market, AWS and Accenture are teaming to migrate a "substantial portion" of Merck's IT infrastructure to AWS. That initiative involves machine learning and AI workloads, and it follows earlier collaborations among the companies.
Accenture's accelerator services, meanwhile, are also vertically oriented. The services "are designed to solve intricate industry-specific challenges," Wegmann said. The goal is to get value faster from cloud migrations, technology modernization and innovation projects as well as speed up access to emerging AWS technologies, such as generative AI, he added.
Ruba Borno, vice president of AWS Worldwide Channels and Alliances, said AWS is lining up with partners to deploy generative AI with industries in mind.
"Our industry-focused approach, working in lockstep with [partners], meets customers where they are on their technology journey and works backwards from their industry-specific needs," she said during the partner keynote.
Media and entertainment
In the media and entertainment vertical, AWS pointed to joint venture between Mission Cloud, a cloud managed services provider in Los Angeles, and MagellanTV, a documentary streaming platform. The venture developed Magellan Voice Works, an automated localization workflow that uses AWS' AI services to convert a documentary's soundtrack from one language to another.
"This can really redefine the economics of distribution, because it cuts the cost of dubbing by an order of magnitude," said Thomas Lucas, MagellanTV's co-founder, speaking at re:Invent.
Ryan Ries, chief data science strategist at Mission Cloud, said the project points toward a broader market.
"It gives people a way to think about how GenAI can drastically improve content localization which is a giant market that continues to gain interest," he said.
Bob Breitel, global managing director of AWS partnership at IBM, said re:Invent's discussion of industry verticals "resonates with the ecosystem." The industry approach will make AWS and its partners more nimble and keep it closer to the customer, he added.
GenAI calls for wider collaboration
Generative AI is compelling technology suppliers to collectively help customers keep up with the rate of change.
"No one company or technology can do it alone," Breitel said. "A thriving ecosystem is required for clients to realize the value of GenAI with speed, scale -- and with responsibility,"
IBM's collaboration with AWS includes the recent certification of Wastonx.ai to run on AWS, he noted.
Breitel also cited services partners combining multiple technologies from AWS and other vendors to make it easier to buy and use generative AI. He pointed to the example of Innovative Solutions, a cloud consultancy in Rochester, N.Y., that launched Tailwinds ChitChat, a generative AI chatbot that uses IBM Watson and Amazon Bedrock.
Partners cite competencies, marketplace revenue
Beyond the obvious AI angle, re:Invent also stood out for its emphasis on partner competencies.
Borno, citing Canalys data, said 87% of the customers the market researcher polled rank AWS specializations as a top-three partner selection criteria. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they review partners' certifications at least twice annually to confirm their commitment to upskilling.
"It was validating to hear that customers look for AWS competencies and certifications to validate partner capabilities," Hunt said.
Caylent has financial services, healthcare, data and analytics, migrations, DevOps, networking and SaaS competencies under the AWS banner. The company's AWS service delivery validations cover Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service, OpenSearch, Control Tower, Graviton, EC2 for Windows Server, Amazon Elastic Container Service and Glue.
Hunt, who called achieving such certifications "a heavy lift," said knowing that customers use them to make purchasing decisions confirms its strategy.
Specializations help partners stand out but also benefit customers. The newly released resilience competency, for example, will make customers "more confident around the infrastructure they have," Casanovas said.
On the sales side, re:Invent offered more evidence that AWS Marketplace has become a key channel for service providers.
"We've been leveraging AWS Marketplace for our offerings," Casanovas said. He noted that more than 50% of revenue Syntax generates from its CxLink product line comes through the marketplace.
CxLink is a set of applications that connect SAP applications and data to AWS offerings such as Amazon S3 and Amazon Connect. Syntax today added Syntax CxLink Backup for Oracle databases to its portfolio.
In some cases, AWS Marketplace deals have led to more ambitious projects with customers. MagellanTV originally approached Mission Cloud for cost optimization and security audit services, which it purchased through the marketplace. That relationship eventually grew into the current joint venture.
Elena Shorb, vice president of channels and alliances at Mission Cloud, said about 20% of the company's net new logo acquisitions originate in the AWS Marketplace. Mission Cloud sells more than 30 offerings through the marketplace, with a particular emphasis on security, cost optimization and generative AI.