AWS CEO to partners: Continue to accelerate

Adam Selipsky, CEO of Amazon Web Services

Adam Selipsky, CEO of Amazon Web Services

It’s a challenging time for many industries, and the overall economic environment heading into 2023 is questionable at best. However, there’s still plenty of room to grow, AWS CEO Adam Selipsky told partners.

Speaking at the company’s Re:invent Partner Keynote last week, Selipsky said there’s still a lot of room for expansion of cloud-based technologies even if current headwinds turn out to be more of a storm. While he acknowledged that some industries “are having trouble right now” and that many that aren’t are still quite worried about the near future, he told partners it’s time to “lean in harder” to the cloud because of the uncertainty in the market.

“You will save them money being in the cloud. They will innovate better and be ready to accelerate faster coming out of the other side. We have to continue to accelerate the cloud journey,” Selipsky said

He urged partners to push themselves to understand where customers want to go next and help them get there. And while cloud has become the defining way to deliver IT over the last half-decade, Selipsky insisted “it’s still early.”

“It’s still day one,” he told partners.

This year’s Re:invent is the tenth time for the event, and Selipsky looked back to the early days of the company’s partner program back in 2006. The partner base was a lot smaller then, and so was the number of solutions AWS offered. But then, so was the total addressable market and the audience receptive to the message of the public cloud. He said the company’s approach to partnering is still the same as it was in those early days.

“We’re going to do a lot of things ourselves, but there’s a vastly larger number of things that our customers want that we want to have partners deliver,” he said. He noted that the company’s go-to-market programs for its many partners had come a long way in recent years.

He said that “ten times out of ten,” the company would make the decision it thought was best for customers and urged partners to take the same approach.

“We need to figure out how we can work together to create innovation for customers,” he said.

He said the company’s most successful partners “take a business unit view” of the AWS relationship, building an organization around working with AWS and its field sales. He suggested that partner investments in training, certifications and competencies are essential, making customers more comfortable.

“Top-down leadership is important with that to make sure the whole organization is building technical and go-to-market capabilities. You can see the results when that happens,” Selipsky said.

Since his return to AWS 18 months ago, Selipsky has increased the focus on the company’s sustainability efforts and messaging. Selipsky acknowledged it as a personal passion and the right thing to do, but he said it’s back to customers and their increasing interest and demands.

“[Sustainability] was an occasional conversation before. Now it’s all the time,” he said. “It doesn’t matter their motivation, customers are going to need sustainable supply chains, and we collectively have become very important parts of their supply chain.”

Selipsky said “the quickest thing” most customers can do to improve their sustainability is to move IT to the cloud, quoting a figure of 3.5x to 5x improvements in efficiency for the AWS cloud versus the average U.S.-based data centre. But in many ways, that’s table stakes. The real value for many customers will be in sustainability-focused vertical solutions, those that help customers make the most of their sustainability efforts or even measure the impact of those efforts.

“There’s a ton of partners building these solutions,” Selipsky said. “I believe there will be significant demand for them, and we’d love to have those pieces from our partners.”

With that opportunity in mind, Selipsky dared partners to invest resources and thinking into the field of sustainability. And if they can show AWS itself a thing or two along the way, even better.

“Out-innovate us. Challenge us, Show us we’re not doing enough,” he asked partners.

Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997.