Cloud as the Ultimate Team Sport: Red River’s Journey with the AWS Partner Transformation Program
By Larry Bowles, Cloud Chief at Red River
A successful cloud strategy doesn’t rely on one person, or one department to execute—it takes a true team effort.
In 2019, Red River Technology came to this realization, broke down internal silos, and leveraged talent across the company to better deliver for our customers. This was due in large part to our participation the AWS Partner Transformation Program (PTP).
In this post, I will walk you through Red River’s company-wide experience going through the PTP. I’ll share our challenges, realizations, and outcomes of this 100-day assessment, training, and enablement program focused on helping us build a more successful and profitable cloud business on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Red River is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner with AWS Competencies in Storage and Government, as well as AWS Service Delivery designations in AWS GovCloud (US), Amazon EC2 for Windows, and AWS CloudFormation. Red River is also a member of the AWS Managed Service Provider (MSP) and Well-Architected Partner Programs.
Our experience with the AWS Partner Transformation Program included a comprehensive assessment of the company’s cloud organization, as well as a detailed and customized Transformation Plan designed to help us achieve our business goals.
As part of the PTP, up to $25,000 USD is available in funding (cash and AWS Credits) that can be used to help fund activities identified in the Transformation Plan. PTP benefits may be applied to training, authorized marketing activities, proof of concepts, workshops, and go-to-market planning.
Partner Transformation Program Kick-Off
In May 2019, Red River’s executive team recognized the value of investing further in our collaboration with AWS to support our customers’ technology transformation.
We worked closely with our Partner Development Manager (PDM) to refine a joint business plan that involved engagement with the PTP.
The Partner Transformation Program was an eye-opening process for many leaders across our company, as it helped us realize cloud is the “ultimate team sport” when it comes to executing for our customers.
With this focused attention and process, Red River was able to engage all departments across the company and ensure we were breaking down “silos of excellence” and creating the cross-functional teams needed to support our cloud go-to-market (GTM) strategy.
Engaging the Right Stakeholders
A critical component to Red River’s success was the team’s engagement during the initial PTP assessment process. The team at DSA—the third-party company approved by AWS to conduct the assessment—was extremely thorough, and ensured we had all the right internal organizations included in our Transformation Plan to maximize the time investment.
The PTP’s two-day assessment workshop was invaluable to us. Having the right employees engaged on Day 1 of the assessment was key to defining the goals our company needed to focus on for continued growth. Sitting in a room together with a talent facilitator and asking thoughtful questions, we identified our weaknesses and areas of opportunity in hours, versus what may have taken weeks or months otherwise.
Coming out of Day 2 of the assessment workshop, our Transformation Plan was detailed, and the time investment across various departments required focus on a recurring basis throughout the 100-day sprint. This allowed several leaders, in many roles, to have ownership of goals and tasks for the growth of our Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE).
We identified six goals we felt were key to filling in the gaps of our cloud efforts, from developing our CCoE to evaluating tools, engaging customers, and enhancing our cloud architect capabilities.
Clear tasks and deliverables, along with the short timeline, was a bonding experience for Red River’s leadership team. It was a project we could succeed at together and own as one unit. It was amazing what we accomplished to create the strategy for infrastructure, collaboration, and tools we’d need to be successful in the years ahead.
The most significant change Red River made during the PTP process was a shift in our mindset—no single business unit was going to be successful selling or delivering cloud on their own. Rather, it requires a village of highly performing cross-functional teams for seamless delivery.
Our new strategy for cloud would include not just the cloud team, but sales, finance, managed services, delivery, marketing, human resources, business operations. The entire company now had ownership of various pieces that would ultimately make Red River successful.
Full Speed Ahead
Armed with a fresh perspective and new internal stakeholders, we made tremendous progress on defining and executing our cloud strategy. The PTP allowed us to “think big” and focus on becoming an AWS MSP while also pursuing AWS Competency and AWS Service Delivery designations we achieved in the second half of 2019.
The Partner Transformation Program has enabled us to better understand what’s available for AWS Partners and how to access it.
The program has yielded benefits that made it easier to find Red River on the AWS Partner Solutions Finder (PSF), net-new Public Sector Contract Vehicles, and new customer delivery engagements surrounding our five cloud superpowers for 2020: Government, Networking, Storage, DevOps, and Migration.
Figure 1 – The AWS Partner Transformation Programed helped Red River identify its cloud superpowers.
Red River completed the PTP’s 100-day sprint at the end of December 2019. Since then, we have leveraged program benefits to:
- Achieve 500+ AWS accredited (business professional and technical professional) Red River employees.
- Partner with A Cloud Guru as our cloud training platform for staff.
- Achieve 50+ AWS Certifications. At the beginning of 2019, we had just 13 AWS Certified employees.
- Refine of our approach to achieve the requirements needed to become an AWS Premier Consulting Partner.
- Create a governance-at-scale structure with our internal AWS accounts to enable our technical workforce to have sandbox environments where they can learn and innovate.
- Add new packaged service offerings around our five cloud delivery superpowers: Government, Networking, Storage, DevOps, and Migration.
With the PTP complete, there have been other positive results for the business, including the creation of our Cloud Center of Excellence (CCoE) and the refinement of our cloud operations. All of this has helped Red River execute on our vision for a successful cloud GTM strategy.
Sky’s the Limit
Although our participation the AWS Partner Transformation Program allowed us to focus and achieve some early wins, it also allowed us to think big. Now, we have big goals for our cloud practice coming out of the PTP.
Red River is now part of the AWS Well-Architected Program. We are in the process of obtaining the AWS DevOps and Migration Competencies, and we’re working towards becoming an AWS Premier Consulting Partner.
We plan to add new AWS Service Delivery Program skills as we prepare for 2021 and beyond, and we’ll continue to sharpen our delivery execution model and focus on various marketing campaigns, capabilities, and customer engagements.
Our partner management team at AWS has made investments in 2020 to support the channel with resources for operations, marketing, and management. Because of our participation in the Partner Transformation Program, AWS provided a dedicated Solutions Architect, Partner Sales Representative, and Partner Marketing Manager to help Red River scale and meet our goals.
I have no doubt Red River would have gotten to where we are now on our own, but the PTP allowed us to move faster and more deliberately, and with more support across the company.
The AWS Partner Transformation Program was critical in identifying business process gaps and our true strengths, turning the cloud practice at Red River into the ultimate team sport.
The content and opinions in this blog are those of the third-party author and AWS is not responsible for the content or accuracy of this post.
Red River – AWS Partner Spotlight
Red River is an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner and MSP that offers end-to-end cloud services, design, migration, security, application development, governance. cost optimization, and managed services.
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