AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog

AWS MSP Partner Program Validation Checklist Update – Version 5

By Shankar Subramaniam, Sr. Partner Solutions Architect – AWS

“When we have partners with real experts who show up at our customer sites, we hear all about it. And it’s just incredibly important for maintaining that trust,” said Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Adam Selipsky at AWS re:Invent 2021.

At AWS, we are extremely fortunate to have an exceptionally broad and talented community of Managed Service Provider (MSP) Partners, who are delivering next-generation managed and professional services to AWS customers. To earn and maintain customer trust, AWS MSP Partners go through an extensive independent audit to ensure they meet a set of rigorous program requirements to deliver a positive customer experience.

As customer needs grow and new capabilities emerge over time, we’re constantly evaluating and evolving what it means to be an AWS-designated MSP. We want to ensure that we continue to raise the bar on what it takes to become and maintain the AWS MSP designation. In addition, we continue to review and incorporate feedback from partners so they can provide the best possible experience to customers.

The goal of the AWS MSP Program is to recognize partners that provide the best AWS Cloud managed service experience for their customers.

To this effect, we periodically publish updates to the AWS MSP Partner Program Validation Checklist (VCL) which defines the criteria and requirements for the AWS MSP Partner Program. We’re pleased to share the latest updates in version 5.0 of the validation checklist.

What’s New or Different in v5.0?

Based on feedback from existing and aspiring AWS MSP Partners, as well as emerging industry trends, we have redesigned the VCL to simplify the evaluation process, better align to the AWS Well-Architected Framework, and reflect the best practices being implemented by our most successful MSPs.

Here are the key updates in v5.0 of the AWS MSP Partner Program validation checklist:

Mandatory/Recommended Requirements

Previous versions of the VCL included a scoring system where passing or failing a given requirement would add or remove points on a final score. In version 5, we have removed the scoring model and instead are simply classifying requirements as “mandatory” or “recommended.”

During full audits, MSPs will need to show detailed evidence that you comply with all mandatory requirements. You’ll also discuss your current compliance with all of the recommended requirements with your auditor, but you won’t need to present detailed evidence and your answers will only be used to inform future updates to the VCL.

While AWS reserves the right to introduce new mandatory requirements at any time, in most cases we will publish new requirements as recommended and then promote them to mandatory in a subsequent major version release. For instance, some of the recommended controls published in v5.0 in 2022 will potentially be promoted to mandatory controls in v6.0 which will be released in 2023.

Well-Architected Pillar Alignment

One of our overarching goals is to better align our VCLs and other architectural standards within AWS more broadly. For this reason, we have explicitly reorganized the checklist to map to the AWS Well-Architected pillars. This makes it easier to find existing guidance related to each of the sections and requirements.

As part of this alignment, we have introduced a section on sustainability to the checklist. All of the requirements in this section are recommended in v5.0, but along with the AWS Well-Architected Sustainability Pillar the items provide guidance for organizations to begin incorporating sustainability into an AWS MSP practice.

Individual Requirement Updates and Additions

Throughout the checklist, we have restructured the individual requirements to break apart complex requirements into simpler components. We’ve removed some requirements where we have seen nearly universal adoption, and we’ve made some requirements more explicit by creating new standalone items.

We have provided a mapping between version 4.2.2 and version 5.0 as a separate sheet within the Self-Scoring Worksheet, so you can easily see which requirements have been updated and which are new.


The new AWS MSP Partner Program Validation Checklist is live now. AWS Partners entering the program, or AWS MSP Partners renewing their program status, will be required to meet v5.0 requirements for all audits and renewals as of Oct. 1, 2022.

For complete details and additional resources, please review the VCL on AWS Partner Central (login required).

Please let us know what you think, as we love to hear from AWS MSP Partners so we can continue to invent and simplify on behalf of our customers.

Stay tuned for upcoming MSP webinar and PartnerCast sessions where we’ll dive deep into the validation checklist.