AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog

Announcing Changes to APN Tiers, Benefits, and Requirements for 2019 and Beyond

AWS Partner NetworkAt AWS re:Invent 2018, we announced updates to the overall AWS Partner Network (APN) program that will further recognize and support the growth, investment, and innovation of our evolving APN Partner community, and better align APN Partners to more structured program benefits.

These updates were announced during the Global Partner Summit keynote by Terry Wise, Vice President of Global Alliances and Channels, AWS. They include:

  • Renaming the Standard Tier to Select Tier
  • Structured benefits for APN Partners at each APN Tier
  • Updating APN requirements to measure each APN Partner’s knowledge, experience, and customer success

Effective February 1, 2019, we are implementing these programmatic changes for all new APN Partners. Current APN Partners have until at least August 1, 2019, to remain compliant under the new requirements.

If you have questions about any of these updates, please connect with your Partner Development Manager (PDM) or Partner Development Representative (PDR) to learn more.

Renaming the Standard Tier to Select Tier

We have heard the feedback from our APN Partner community that the term “Standard” does not convey a sense of value to AWS customers that are looking to engage with APN Partners.

Therefore, we are renaming the Standard Tier to “Select” in order to create a more compelling brand for APN Partners and instill confidence in AWS customers.

Structured Benefits for APN Consulting & Technology Partners

While AWS has always made significant investments in our APN Partner community, we have heard the feedback that APN Partners want access to a structured set of benefits that are easy to access and utilize, as well as a clear message around how benefits tie into APN tiers and programs.

In response to this feedback and to more clearly demonstrate our commitment to current and potential APN Partners, we will be providing more prescriptive APN benefits starting in 2019. The new benefits packages are tied to both APN Tier achievement and APN Partners’ capabilities demonstrated through APN Program designations such as the AWS Competency, AWS Managed Service Provider (MSP), and AWS Well-Architected Partner Programs.

Learn more about the new APN benefits >>

New APN Program Criteria Explained

It’s been three years since APN requirements were last modified, and the APN has grown exponentially in that time. There is a continual increase in the depth and breadth of capabilities offered by our APN Partners, and the APN program needs to evolve to reflect this growth.

By refreshing our APN program criteria, our goal is to better recognize and categorize APN Partners’ capabilities while aligning them with enablement and benefits that are based on each organization’s investment in their AWS-based business as well as the maturity of their practice.

APN Program requirements will now be structured into three categories:

  • Knowledge
  • Experience
  • Customer Success

These distinctions will drive greater alignment with what AWS and mutual customers are looking for in a partner engagement at every tier level. By focusing on these categories, our APN programs can best support your growth and enable you to deliver excellent customer experiences.

Knowledge Category: Overview

The Knowledge category includes training and certification and is the critical foundation from which all APN Partners can build strong AWS-based practices or solutions.

In the past, we having focused purely on an organization’s total number of AWS Certifications, regardless of how many certs an individual person may hold. While we encourage people to pursue this high degree of personal excellence, we’ve found that a small number of certified individuals does not compensate for a bench of technical experts. On the contrary, APN Partners can achieve higher levels of success when they have a deep roster of talent.

Therefore, we are shifting our AWS Accreditation and AWS Certification requirements to focus on the number of individuals that hold AWS Certifications, rather than the total count within an organization. This change results in a higher bar for this category of requirements, even though the numbers we are requiring are similar to counts from the previous years.

APN Consulting Partners

For APN Consulting Partners, we will be requiring four (4) unique individuals to carry AWS Accreditations, including at least two (2) with Business Professional and two (2) with Technical Professional.

We’re also introducing a net-new requirement for “AWS Foundational Certifications,” which includes the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification that was launched at AWS re:Invent 2017. These AWS Accreditations and AWS Certifications ensure that sales, marketing, and other support staff have a foundation of AWS knowledge that allows them to better engage with customers.

We will also continue to require technical certifications for individuals who are designing, implementing, and managing solutions, products, and services on AWS.

APN Technology Partners

For Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and other APN Technology Partners, we have found that organizations create well-architected solutions when they have a strong understanding of AWS best practices. This is why we’re introducing AWS Technical certifications as an APN Technology Partner requirement starting in 2019.

Knowledge Category: Details

  • AWS Technical Certified Individuals (Consulting and Technology Partners)
    This requires APN Partners to employ a specific number of unique individuals that have obtained AWS Certifications at the Associate, Professional, or Specialty levels. For the purpose of tier eligibility and compliance, the highest level certification will be counted for each individual. For example, in the case where an individual is both an Associate and Professional-level AWS Certified Solutions Architect, only the Professional-level certificate will be counted.
  • AWS Accredited Professionals (Consulting Partners only)
    This requires APN Partners to employ a specific number of individuals that have obtained the AWS Technical Professional and AWS Business Professional accreditations. Required minimums vary by tier.
  • AWS Foundational Certified Individuals (Consulting Partners only)
    This requires APN Partners to employ a specific number of unique individuals that have obtained the AWS Cloud Practitioner Certification.

Experience Category: Overview

The Experience category includes revenue, launched opportunities with customers, business planning, APN program validations such as AWS Competencies, and—at the Premier Tier only—an Executive Business Review. These requirements provide a clear measure of APN Partners’ proven experience delivering AWS solutions or building software on AWS.

APN Consulting Partners

For APN Consulting Partners, we are shifting to focus on annual “launched opportunities” with customers. This refers to customer engagements registered through the AWS Opportunity Management process and have reached launched or won status.

It’s important to note that launched opportunities do not always represent individual customers/logos, but can represent multiple engagements within a single end customer business. This allows us to create strong alignment between AWS and APN Partner sales organizations, and focus together on winning new business.

We find that our most successful APN Partners engage with AWS in a business planning process, so we’ll be working with APN Partners at the Advanced and Premier Tiers to ensure this exercise is completed on an annual basis. If you’re seeking Premier Tier status, we’ll continue to have a strong focus on differentiating your business through APN Programs such as the AWS Competency, AWS MSP, and AWS Well-Architected Partner programs.

This is the first year that AWS Well-Architected is included as an APN requirement, and we believe strongly this is an important area for leading APN Consulting Partners.

We’ll also be conducting an Executive Business Review for APN Partners when they apply to the Premier Tier so we can assess the overall health of the partnership. We’ll be asking APN Partners applying to the Premier Tier to demonstrate the sustainability of their performance at this level by maintaining all Premier Tier criteria for a period of six (6) months before they are eligible to apply.

APN Technology Partners

For APN Technology Partners, we will remain focused on launched opportunities and growth, but we’ll also retain a direct revenue alternative in recognition of the various sales motions APN Partners may have. Many APN Partners sell through indirect channels and may not have early enough visibility to submit opportunities.

We’re also requiring APN Technology Partners at all tiers to have at least one (1) product in General Availability (GA). At the Advanced Tier, that product must pass a Technical Baseline Review, which is conducted by an AWS Solution Architect and is aligned to the 5 Pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework.

Experience Requirements: Details

  • Launched Opportunities (Consulting and Technology Partners)
    This requires APN Partners to maintain a total number of newly “launched” opportunities with a total combined estimated Monthly Reoccurring Revenue (MRR) minimum over a rolling 12-month period. All opportunities are to be tracked and managed via the Opportunity Management Tool in APN Partner Central. The required minimum number of launched opportunities and estimated MRR values vary by tier. Required minimums vary by tier.
  • Partner Business Plan (Consulting and Technology Partners)
    This requires APN Partners to identify and track specific objectives related to their AWS partnership via a documented business plan. Business plans must be validated by a PDM or PDR on an annual basis.
  • Technical Program Validations (Consulting and Technology Partners)
    This requires APN Partners to obtain a validation, or validations, from one of several global APN Programs. For APN Consulting Partners, this includes the AWS Competency, AWS MSP, and AWS Well-Architected Partner Programs. For APN Technology Partners, this includes AWS Competency designations or the AWS Technical Baseline Review. Required minimums vary by tier.
  • Sustained Attainment of Premier Tier Criteria (Consulting Partners only)
    This requires APN Partners looking to achieve Premier Tier status to meet and maintain Premier Tier requirements for at least six (6) consecutive months before they are eligible to apply.
  • Executive Business Review (Consulting Partners only)
    APN Partners that meet and maintain all minimum Premier Tier requirements for at least six (6) consecutive months may be eligible for an Executive Business Review. By working through their PDM, the Executive Business Review asks APN Partners to provide information regarding multiple aspects of their partnership with AWS in an effort to measure their ability to maintain Premier Tier status year-over-year.
  • Direct Revenue (Technology Partners only)
    This requires APN Partners to maintain a cumulative revenue total derived from AWS accounts that are owned by the APN Partner over a rolling 12-month period. This includes AWS accounts used for internal production, test, or development workloads. Required minimums vary by tier.
  • Product Listing (Technology Partners only)
    This requires APN Partners to have at least one (1) product listed as being under GA on AWS. Each product listing must be validated by the PDM or PDR.

Customer Success Category: Overview

APN Consulting and Technology Partners

The Customer Success category includes the APN Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Program, public references with AWS customers, and—for APN Technology Partners—business support or higher on production workloads. This allows APN Partners to clearly demonstrate their successful engagements with customers over time.

AWS is a customer obsessed organization, and we want to work with APN Partners who share this passion with us. For both APN Consulting and Technology Partners, we have previously asked for a number of both public and private references. However, we have heard clearly from our APN Partners that public references are a leading driver of new business.

To better support this, we have pivoted our reference requirement to focus on publicly referenceable customers only, though with a smaller total number than was previously required. We will also require APN Partners at all tiers to participate in the CSAT process by securing reviews from their customers.

The CSAT information will not be exposed externally, but will be used to successfully demonstrate APN Partners’ alignment to Amazon’s leadership principle of Customer Obsession. CSAT scores can also be used within AWS to identify APN Partners that are driving excellent customer experiences and align them to new opportunities with customers.

APN Technology Partners

For APN Technology Partners, we’ll continue to require that business support or higher be maintained on all production workloads. This ensures any potential issues that may impact service to a customer can be addressed in a timely manner in accordance with appropriate SLAs.

Customer Success Category: Details

  • Publicly Referenceable Customers (Consulting and Technology Partners)
    This requires APN Partners to designate previously closed, or launched, opportunities as publicly referenceable. The option to designate a customer as publicly referenceable is made available once the status of an approved opportunity is changed to “launched” in the Opportunity Management Tool via APN Partner Central. Details relating to AWS customer opportunities designated as publicly referenceable may be displayed in Partner Solutions Finder (PSF) listings. Required minimums vary by tier.
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Responses (Consulting and Technology Partners)
    This requires APN Partners to obtain a specific number of customer responses via the “Rate this Partner” function within their PSF listing. Required minimums vary by tier.

Next Steps

As an APN Partner, we want to ensure your organization is successful on AWS. We can do this is by evaluating your knowledge, experience, and customer success on AWS.

Effective February 1, 2019, we are implementing these programmatic changes for all new APN Partners. Current APN Partners have until at least August 1, 2019, to remain compliant with your existing tier under the new requirements.

If you have questions about any of these updates, please connect with your PDM or PDR to learn more.

Read more about the new APN program updates >>