Channeling the Cloud

Amazon Prowls for Partners, Launches Marketplace

Not always seen as the most partner-friendly cloud provider, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is taking key steps to reverse that perception.

Amazon recently launched the AWS Partner Network, a program aimed at supporting a wide cross section of partners, including ISVs, third-party cloud providers, systems integrators, consulting firms and managed services providers. Signaling that partners have influenced some of its biggest enterprise wins, AWS believes it can carry that momentum forward with its new global program, which will provide its ecosystem with technical information and sales and marketing support.

It's hard to ignore Amazon's leading position as a cloud services provider. Technology Business Research (TBR) estimates AWS revenues for the most-recent quarter were $283 million, up 37 percent year-over-year; these findings echo other analyst estimates that Amazon's cloud venture is on a run rate to exceed $1 billion in revenues this year. TBR analyst Jillian Mirandi said in a late-April research note that AWS will see increased revenue in the second half as it begins to take enterprise market share.

Amazon has created two partner categories: technology and consulting. Depending on the requirements they meet, partners will qualify for one of three tiers: registered, standard or advanced. Certified partners will be able to display an AWS logo, receive a listing in the AWS Partner Directory and earn $1,000 credits for service and premium support.

The program is currently in beta and Amazon plans to have it up and running later in the year, although existing partners can prequalify for the standard and advanced tiers now.

Just after Amazon made that announcement, it launched the AWS Marketplace -- an online store that lets enterprise users procure cloud-based development tools, business applications and infrastructure from software suppliers. The upshot is Amazon's using its cloud infrastructure to become a major Software as a Service distributor.

Amazon customers can rent applications by the hour or by the month and run them on the AWS portfolio of cloud services (and pay for them on the same bill). Already on board are well-known players such as 10gen, CA, Canonical, Couchbase, Check Point Software, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, SAP and Zend, as well as open source purveyors WordPress, Drupal and MediaWiki.

"The way businesses are buying applications is changing," said Amazon CTO Werner Vogles, in a blog post. "There is a new generation of leaders that have very different expectations about how they can select the products and tools they need to be successful. It has had a true democratization effect; no longer does the dominant vendor in a market automatically get chosen."

Certainly Amazon isn't the first to launch an app marketplace for enterprises. But given its increasing dominance as a cloud provider, Amazon could become a key player in the sales and procurement of enterprise apps, dev tools and infrastructure. And if it plays its cards right with the building of its partner ecosystem, Amazon's cloud growth could be hard to stop.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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