AWS Partner Network (APN) Blog

One Year Later: The Value of the AWS Government Competency for APN Partners and Customers

When we launched the AWS Government Competency at the AWS Public Sector Summit in 2016, our mission was to better enable customers to connect with AWS Consulting and Technology Partners who have demonstrated technical proficiency and proven success in managing government workloads. And at the same time, we strive to help innovative APN Partners with a focus on Government customers and workloads further distinguish their expertise and gain additional visibility within their target customer base.

As we come upon the one year anniversary of the AWS Government Competency launch, we asked a few of our AWS Government Competency Partners to tell us a bit about their missions, why they decided to use and help support customers on AWS, their growth as an APN Partner, and the experiences they’ve had since becoming an AWS Government Competency Partner.

Who are AWS Government Competency Partners and how do they serve the government sector?

With representation around the world, our AWS Government Competency Partner ecosystem is diverse and strives to serve many levels of government. Take Okta, for example, an Advanced Technology Partner who holds not only the AWS Government Competency but also the Security Competency. “Okta’s mission is to enable any organization to use any technology, improving the connections between people and technology to make every organization more productive and secure,” explains Allen Clark, VP of Partnerships, Okta. “With a best-of-breed identity solution, we help government entities securely adopt new technologies, protect their employees, and engage with constituents logging into websites and portals. Today we serve all levels of government in the United States and around the world, from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US, to the Peterborough City Council in the United Kingdom.”

AWS Government Competency Partners seek to help government agencies meet their unique requirements and further their mission by taking advantage of the cloud.

“The Smartronix mission is to help our Government clients transform the way they consume and deliver IT services. We deliver cloud solutions that support critical government infrastructure services,” says Robert Groat, EVP, Technology and Strategy, Smartronix (a Premier Consulting Partner and multiple APN Competency holder). “Our advanced expertise in securing and monitoring cloud solutions that meet the rigorous FedRAMP Moderate and High baselines have positioned us to support some of the most demanding and compliance driven customers such as Department of the Treasury, Department of Justice, and Fannie Mae. We primarily work with Agencies seeking the highest levels of security compliance.”

The impact of these APN Partners is far-reaching and focused on helping government agencies working for the betterment of their citizens. “Currently, our most important government customers are the Mexican Secretary of Agriculture (SAGARPA) and the Mexican State of Guanajuato,” says Rene Bravo, CEO of IT Era, an Advanced Consulting Partner. “We helped both customers move from traditional data centers to AWS cloud and we now provide them infrastructure managed services.” “Our primary government customer is the Chilean national government, and we have offices in Chile, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and Ecuador,” explains Carolina Zamorano, AWS Business Manager for Soluciones Orion, a Premier Consulting Partner.

Being an APN Partner has allowed Splunk, an Advanced Technology Partner and Government, Security, and Big Data Competency holder to deploy SaaS quickly and on a global scale. Splunk’s relationship with AWS has been valuable as the company has grown their service – specifically servicing the Public Sector. “All of our customers are important, and Splunk has made investments to address the unique challenges of government agencies,” says Kevin Davis, VP, Public Sector, Splunk. “The AWS Government Competency helps enable Splunk and AWS to support government modernization initiatives by helping our joint customers to securely and efficiently transition their workloads to the cloud. With Splunk, government agencies have a proven solution to accelerate data-driven initiatives and analytics in the AWS Cloud. We are proud that we have been able to accelerate various initiatives for all 15 cabinet level departments, all four branches of the US military, all three branches of the US Federal government and agencies in 43 of the 50 states.”

Why become an APN Partner and use AWS?

For many of our AWS Government Competency Partners, the value of AWS lies in the agility and innovation AWS helps them drive both within their firm and for their end customers.

“We have worked with AWS since our inception in 2011. We chose to focus our solution on AWS because it offered the best product in the marketplace. That was true in 2011, and it is still true today in 2017. We think AWS is exceptional for its speed of innovation. For a successful and large company, the pace is truly amazing,” says Aaron Klein, Co-Founder & COO, CloudCheckr, an Advanced Technology Partner who also holds the Security Competency.

“AWS enables us to be agile — and allows us to focus on our solution while AWS focuses on the infrastructure. But what truly sets AWS apart is innovation: when AWS launches a new service like Amazon EC2 Container Service (ECS), AWS Key Management Service (KMS), and AWS Lambda, we take note and leverage those services to support our growing identity network and better serve our customers,” explains Clark from Okta.

The high standards established for APN Partners and deep support provided by AWS around the world has also been an important motivator for a number of Government Competency holders.

“As a Technology Partner, AWS really sets itself apart with its APN team. Everyone at AWS is supportive and collaborative and they have really provided a guiding light for us, especially as we continue to grow at the speed we’ve been growing at,” explains Alex Wong, Director of Marketing, SmartSimple, an Advanced Technology Partner.

“While AWS holds its APN Partners to high standards, AWS also consistently supports and works with those who meet the standards. AWS’ help through the APN and Competency Program has proven invaluable in helping CloudCheckr thrive and grow as a solution and as a company. We would not be where we are today without the benefits of being an APN Partner,” explains Aaron Klein, Co-Founder & COO, CloudCheckr.

And as AWS continues to grow its footprint locally, APN Partners are finding additional benefits. “We joined as an APN Partner at the end of 2012, when AWS was not yet as established in Mexico. We chose AWS because it made business sense to enter the cloud business with the industry leader. This has proven to be a good decision and AWS now has a great staff locally in our markets, Latin America and Spain,” says Rene Bravo, CEO of IT Era.

What’s the value in holding the AWS Government Competency?

As they’ve grown their businesses on AWS, why exactly have these APN Partners chosen to pursue the AWS Government Competency? The reasons are many, but a few key themes seem to surface: differentiation, credibility, and confidence earned with customers and with AWS.

“The Government Competency from AWS has opened doors for us within organizations and agencies that otherwise might have been a little slower to open. We wear the Government Competency badge as a sense of pride in the work that we’ve done to earn it and the work that we will do in the future to validate it,” explains Craig Atkinson, CEO and co-founder, JHC Technology, an Advanced Consulting Partner.

“The APN takes its Competency designations seriously. This gives credence to the companies that achieve these Competencies and provides a benchmark that differentiates other APN Partners in this space,” explains Robert Groat, EVP, Technology and Strategy, Smartronix. “We want our government clients to know that we are committed to delivering AWS solutions that meet their unique and demanding requirements. As an AWS Premier Partner in the AWS Government Competency Program we have benefited from being able to deliver highly secure, highly available, fault tolerant and innovative solutions that have transformed the way our government customers deliver services to its constituents.”

Becoming an AWS Government Competency Partner can also help APN Partners become more visible to AWS teams who are seeking to help their customers in the government space connect with APN Partners for value-added services and solutions. “We feel that being able to identify ourselves as a holder of the Government Competency serves as a key differentiator in the eyes of AWS, especially as it relates to the rapidly growing AWS Partner Network,” explains Hemant Datta, COO and co-founder, JHC Technology. “Our experiences to earn such recognition lend credence to the discussions with AWS and between ourselves, AWS, and the customer that the decisions and recommendations provided by JHC are in line with our history of delivering value to the government.”

How does the AWS Government Competency help customers on AWS?

The goal of the AWS Competency Program is to help customers identify and connect with APN Partners with proven expertise in a specific solution area, industry, or application. And we set a rigorously high bar for partners seeking the Competency badge. We seek to help customers feel confident that when they engage with a Competency partner, their unique requirements and business needs will be met. This is particularly important in the government space.

“We find being a Government Competency Partner is definitely important to customers, particularly in the federal space. Government users know that the APN thoroughly vets the Competency Partners. Having this verification of competence signals that the solution or service provider is serious and delivers a valuable solution tailored to government needs,” says Aaron Klein, Co-Founder & COO, CloudCheckr.

“Credibility is of great importance in the government sector. The AWS Government Competency gives Government clients, and AWS, more confidence in REAN Cloud and its solutions. The Government Competency gives the customers the ability to easily identify AWS Partners with expertise and skills in working with government customers to deliver mission-critical workloads and applications on AWS,” says Michael Skarzynski, VP, Public Sector Practice, REAN Cloud, a Premier Consulting Partner and multiple Competency holder.

Alex Wong of SmartSimple explains, “Customers in these industries can be assured that they’re working with highly qualified service providers, as all APN Partner products and solutions are validated by internal AWS teams. It also gives them an easy way to find and connect with vendors they can trust.”

Robert Groat, EVP, Technology and Strategy of Smartronix explained that for his firm, the competency designation helps establish that they are committed to meeting the unique requirements of Government clients: “Government clients need to know which APN Partners are committed to meeting their unique requirements. The AWS Government Competency is a public way of acknowledging the APN Partners that have achieved the standards required by the competency designation.”

In Summary…

Wong sums it up nicely when he says, “Participating in the Government Competency Program has been a joy for us at SmartSimple. The visibility the designation gives us both within AWS itself and externally with prospective clients can’t be measured, but the impact is definitely felt. We have a solid working relationship with our AWS contacts and we greatly appreciate how attentive they are to our needs, and how collaborative they are in helping us move the needle as we continue to grow.”

Meet Government Competency Partners at the AWS Public Sector Summit!

A number of AWS Government Competency Partners are sponsoring the AWS Public Sector Summit. We encourage you to meet this elite group of APN Partners and learn more about how they can help you in your journey to the AWS Cloud.

Would you like to learn more about becoming a AWS Government Competency Partner? Click here to learn about the benefits and the requirements of becoming a member of the AWS Government Competency program. And find all of our current AWS Government Competency Partners here.

Are you looking to explore APN Partner success stories in the Government, Education, and Nonprofit sectors? We’ve got you covered! Visit our new case study page to discover stories from around the world.