AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog

New Validation Checklists Clarify Requirements for the AWS Competency Program

By Chris Alvarez, Sr. Partner Program Manager at AWS
By Julie Pascal, Managing Partner at ISSI

AWS Competency_thumbnailThe AWS Competency Program highlights top AWS Partner Network (APN) Partners that have demonstrated technical proficiency and proven customer success in specialized solution areas.

To receive the AWS Competency designation, APN Partners must undergo rigorous technical validation related to industry-specific technology, as well as an assessment of the security, performance, and reliability of their Amazon Web Services (AWS) solutions.

This validation gives customers complete confidence in choosing APN Partners from the tens of thousands in the AWS Partner Network. To help APN Consulting Partners better understand this process and our validation requirements, we are releasing new versions of the AWS Competency Validation Checklists.

The checklists highlighted in this post are for APN Consulting Partners, who in many cases undergo technical validation through ISSI, a third-party auditor.

What’s Included in the Validation Checklists for APN Consulting Partners?

These checklists outline for APN Consulting Partners the customer case study and technical criteria needed to achieve the AWS Competency designation.

We have revised the requirements for some of our checklists around the pillars of the AWS Well-Architected Framework. For other solutions, we are identifying key characteristics of a standout AWS practice and building validation requirements around those elements.

UPDATE: Validation Checklist Grace Period

The AWS Competency Program will honor a 60-day grace period from the time each new Validation Checklist is published. During this period, APN Partners can be validated against the previous checklist version, if applicable.

After the 60-day grace period, APN Partners will be validated against the most recent checklist version found on the AWS Competency Program page.

NEW! Microsoft Workloads Checklist

We are excited to launch a new version of the AWS Microsoft Workloads Competency Validation Checklist. We will be launching Validation Checklists for all AWS Competencies and will update this post as new checklists become available.

Other Validation Checklists

How Has the APN Re-Engineered the Validation Process?

APN Consulting Partners have told us the AWS Competency Program requirements were not clearly defined, nor were they aligned with the expectations of the AWS technical review teams. To improve this experience, AWS and ISSI have re-engineered the validation process based on feedback from AWS Competency validations conducted over the past three years.

Improved Validation Call Experience

We have removed the requirement to provide documentation to auditors in advance of the validation call. The expectation now is that APN Consulting Partners be prepared to present the required Competency-specific solutions using architectural diagrams and related design details during the remote audit session.

This allows the session to be more of a deep dive and less of a check-the-boxes audit. APN Consulting Partners are encouraged to invite appropriate members of their technical teams to the call, as well as subject matter experts who can describe and answer questions about the customer case studies and other evidence being presented.

AWS Solutions Architects will be participating in these calls whenever possible in order to add their technical knowledge to the discussion.

Shorter Turnaround Times for Applications

Recent process improvements have contributed to a reduction in turnaround time for AWS Competency applications.

After the validation call, APN Consulting Partners will receive a Summary report indicating any Action Items requiring a response. Clear timelines are communicated, and APN Partners have five business days to respond to any identified Action Item. After any responses are received, the Final Report is submitted to AWS, also within five business days.

The final determination of acceptance into the AWS Competency Program is made after AWS receives the final validation report and no longer than 20 business days from receipt of the final report.

Ensuring a Positive and Valuable Audit Experience

During the validation call, auditors will often provide recommendations based on their knowledge and experience. These are documented in the Summary report as Opportunities for Improvement (OFIs), and may include:

      • Suggestions for improving processes or documentation
      • Participation in additional APN Programs
      • Implementation of tools that may automate or improve practices

The sharing of OFIs has been part of the AWS Managed Service Provider (MSP) Program since its inception. While no actions are required in response to OFIs, they allow auditors to share best practices with APN Consulting Partners and provide recommendations for continual improvement. This consultative approach ensures that APN Partners have a positive and valuable audit experience.

About the AWS Competency Program

By participating in the AWS Competency Program and undergoing the technical and practice validation, APN Partners gain access to the technical expertise of AWS Solutions Architects and the extensive collection of best practices gathered by ISSI auditors over hundreds of MSP and Competency audits.

The key value of the AWS Competency Program is to build customer trust by helping organizations choose the top APN Partners based on workload, solution, or industry designation. The AWS Competency Program identifies, validates, and differentiates the top APN Partners that have demonstrated customer success and deep specialization in specific solution areas or segments.

Learn more about the AWS Competency Program >>