Rethinking of ISV partner framework, new mainframe and energy competencies highlight 2020 AWS Partner keynote

The new ISV program, Partner Path, which will see all ISV partners move to it in January, cans old tier-based requirements for access to enablement so that customers can get more and better support from ISV partners.

AWS’ Sandy Carter on the virtual stage at re:Invent 2020

On Tuesday at AWS re:Invent, CEO Andy Jassy announced 27 new services for AWS customers. On Thursday at the AWS Partner Keynote, the AWS Partners organization didn’t approach 27 new programs solutions or competencies for AWS partners, but there were still quite a few. Emphasis was also given to partners to make more use of existing programs.

“We’ve had many changes this year but one thing hasn’t changed, and that’s the pace of innovation at AWS,” said Doug Yeum, Head of the Global Partner Organization at AWS. “I’m also seeing more partners move faster this year than ever before. The most successful partners that I’ve seen truly understand the importance of moving fast.”

Yeum noted that many successful partners are transforming into cloud-first companies, even willing to cannibalize some of their existing business if necessary.

“Based on many conversations with partners this year I’m feeling very optimistic as they have indicated they are willing to make this tradeoff,” Yeum stated.

He highlighted ISV and SaaS partners as one group who had really leveraged the AWS platform well, integrating AWS services like SageMaker Autopilot to put predictive capabilities in the hands of people with little experience in data science.

Cohesity CEO Mohit Aron then appeared remotely and announced the general availability of Cohesity DataProtect delivered as a Service, the first offering through the comprehensive Data Management as a Service [DMaaS] solution that comes from a strategic collaboration with AWS. Aron then announced the forthcoming second solution on the DMaaS platform, Cohesity SiteContinuity as a service for Disaster Recovery, which will soon go into early access preview. Aron said these two services would be followed by many more.

“Cohesity is just one of many ISVs who have leveraged the AWS SaaS Factory Program, and to manage this we needed to scale how we help them,” Yeum indicated. Accordingly, he noted the launch of the AWS SaaS Competency earlier this year, and that they now have 27 consulting partners who have achieved this competency.

“We then set out to develop a solution to help all partners and customers build SaaS solutions on their own with a self-service model,” Yeum said. “We are launching SaaS Boost, which is now available for preview, and which removes the heavy lifting of launching a SaaS offering on AWS.” He noted that its open source code can be adopted by developers as is, or modified.

“I’m excited to see how this will be used to accelerate development,” he indicated.

Yeum then highlighted another existing program, AWS Accelerate.

“ISV Partners want co-selling help,” he said. “AWS Accelerate provides incentives for AWS sellers to support these partners with co-selling and for successfully closing joint opportunities.” He noted that AWS Marketplace listing fees have also been reduced.

“We will continue to invest to move the needle for our ISV partners,” Yeum stressed.

One newly announced program, AWS ISV Partner Path, which will be available in January 2021, will be a key way of doing that. It represents a major rethink by AWS of how to manage ISV partners, discarding the old system of making ISV access to resources contingent on meeting tier status, and giving all ISVs access to programs like SaaS Factory Program and ISV Accelerate.

“It makes it easier to access tailored programs and benefits, and to get access without needing to meeting tier-based requirements,” Yeum said. “We recognize many ISVs have multiple solutions and we have heard from our customers they want us to focus on each solution. We believe our new approach aligns well with how ISVs go to market and how customers want to buy.” Starting in January, all existing technology partners with software solutions that run with AWS will be transitioned to Partner Path.

“I think Partner Path will simplify the overall partner experience and accelerate time to value for partners who want to engage AWS,” Yeum indicated.

Dave McCann , VP AWS Migration, Marketplace & Control Services for AWS, then went into more detail on partner-facing changes to the Marketplace, which he noted has over 200 new ISV members.

One new program is Managed Entitlements for AWS Marketplace, which is now integrated into AWS License Manager. McCann noted that while AWS sold software, typically third-party tools were used to integrate it.

“Now Marketplace is integrated with AWS License Manager to allow software to be tracked,” he said. This is automated for both AWS and on-prem.”

McCann also introduced AWS Marketplace APIs for Private Marketplace, which lets buyers manage their Private Marketplace using a set of publicly accessible APIs.

“This makes it easier to manage Private Marketplace, and will also make it easier for partners to set things up for their customers,” he noted. McCann noted that AWS Service Catalog AppRegistry can also now be used to let partners and customers define resources to better manage applications, by creating application definitions and maintaining a single source of truth.

Last, and not least, McCann announced that professional services for third-party software is now available in AWS Marketplace.

“Customers can now contract both for the software and the services through Marketplace,” he said. “We have over 100 providers of professional services available at launch.

“This is a gamechanger, said Bob Cagnazzi, CEO of solution provider and AWS partner Presidio. “The ability to put our services on Marketplace really makes it super-easy for clients to consume and innovate very, very quickly.”

Sandy Carter, VP Partner & Programs, Public Sector, then took the virtual stage to discuss new initiatives in her area, which covers Government, Education, Non-Profit and Healthcare in Canada, and also encompasses Transportation, Travel and Financial Services in the U.S.

“I did a virtual tour of 100 partners in 100 days,” Carter said. “There are so many AWS programs that can help you succeed and grow. On that 100-day tour, I heard what you were looking for – funding technical enablement, engagement with customers, Go-to-Market opportunities and shared programs for consulting partners.”

Carter announced that the ATO [Authority to Operate] program is being expanded beyond the FedRamp program in the U.S.

“For partners, the ATO program reduced time to compliance by providing best practices,” Carter said. “We started ATO with FedRamp and we are announcing we have 3x more FedRamp authorized solutions than Azure and Google combined, a total of 129 solutions.  We were very successful in that, and we  asked if there were other areas where compliance is really important. That’s what we have done now.”

ATO now includes other frameworks like PCI-DSS, HIPAA, CJIS, IRS 1075, IRAP, GDPR, and DoD IL4/IL5/IL60.

“We have added an ATO for PCI,” Carter said. “We now have a way to help you with HIPAA. If you are subject to GDPR, we can help you with that.”

Carter also went over the AWS partner solutions push, and stressed the importance of MAP [Migration Acceleration Program] 2.0.

“MAP 2.0 was made for you, our partners,” she said. “It provides funding in the  assess state, mobilize stage and migration stage. We have a MAP program for SAP workloads, and 28 SAP partners. Carter also announced 20 new AWS premier consulting partners.

Most of the new news Carter announced was around competencies.

Last year at re:Invent, AWS launched the AWS Public Safety and Disaster Response Competency, which was then limited to consulting partners. Now they are announcing the expansion of the competency to the first set of AWS Technology Partners, their ISV partners. 16 Technology partners are in the initial launch.

“Typically at a launch we have 10-15 partners, and then once we launch, everyone else knows about it, and so it’s like a beta,” Carter said. “Last year we had 13 consulting partners at launch and it’s now up to 25.”

Two brand new competencies were unveiled, around mainframes and energy.

“Mainframes still run 30 billion transactions a day, so we are pre-announcing the mainframe migration competency in 2021,” Carter stated. “After migrating Microsoft and Oracle apps, this is the next stage of migration. It’s a really hard competency. It has a lot of requirements for it. To qualify, you have to demonstrate competency and experience in migrating from mainframe – show you have done it in the past – and migration from mainframe applications is really just starting.” Over 100 partners are certified in the competency at launch.

The Energy competency is also being preannounced and is targeted for launch in 2021.

Think Big for Small Business, which launched as a pilot earlier this year, has gone global. Aimed at partners who server the SME market, the program provides time, resources, and guidance to small and medium enterprises in the AWS Solution Provider program as they work towards their competencies.

“It’s about how we assist small and medium sized partners to get extra help,” Carter said. “These vary by country, and provide Go-to-Market assistance and technology assistance, depending on what partners really need.”

Carter noted that this program actually started in Singapore, EMEA, the Middle East and Africa, and that it hasn’t been used as much in the U.S., where most partners are large enough to qualify for other help. American and Canadian partners are eligible, however. Diversity is a goal of the program, although not a requirement.

Carter also announced that the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Rapid Adoption Assistance Initiative, which was launched in September to help partners accelerate AI and ML technology development for the public sector, is now available globally.

“We started this because a lot of companies aren’t doing a lot of AI and ML,” she said. “This will assist partners from moving from envisioning the challenge to doing a proof of concept.”

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