AWS Cloud Enterprise Strategy Blog

Accelerate Your Cloud Strategy with Partners

“You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.” -Mother Teresa

Different organizations take different approaches to partnering with third parties for technology expertise. Some are biased toward building their own technology; others outsource some or all of the development, maintenance, and ongoing operations of their technology to one or more partners. Regardless of where your organization sits on the spectrum, you’re almost certainly partnering with a handful of hardware, tools, and/or cloud providers to develop products and services for your internal and external customers.

I’ve spoken with hundreds of executives that are in the process of evolving their organization’s technology strategy over the past few years, and many are re-examining their approach to partnering as they begin to understand how the cloud can help them transform their business. This post explores some of my observations on how the technology ecosystem is changing in the wake of the cloud, and kicks off a miniseries on the topic of engaging partners, which is the fourth best practice in my Enterprise Cloud Journey series.

Making Sense of the Fast-Growing Ecosystem

I’m continually amazed at how fast the ecosystem around the cloud grows. I’ve attended AWS re:Invent for the last four years, and each time I’ve marveled at how much larger the partner expo was than the year before. To put this into perspective, the number of partner booths more than doubled between 2012 and 2015, and walking the floor to learn about the latest tools and services went from an hour-long stroll to a day-long expedition. I can’t think of a better place to discover where the market is headed and spot trends around where VCs are placing their bets.

This growing ecosystem may make finding the right partner for your needs seem difficult, but having a multiple vendors competing for your business can also work to your advantage. Your AWS account manager and our AWS Partner Directory can help you narrow down your selection, and the AWS Marketplace can help you discover and deploy solutions from a wide range of providers and categories in seconds. If you can’t find what you’re looking for in the AWS Marketplace today, let us know.

Transforming Your Culture

It’s encouraging to see how open minded large organizations have become to partnering with the smaller, leaner, and less “proven” organizations that are building tools, professional services, and managed services that cater to enterprises. When I started buying technology on behalf of my organization more than fifteen years ago, I was taught to only partner with the large and established companies with long track records and large scale. Now I see many large Fortune 500 companies partnering with providers younger than my four-year-old daughter to help them with their hairiest problems. In some cases, doing so helps them transform their entire business.

Many technology executives leading their organization toward a digital and customer-first tomorrow realize that they’ll be able to move faster if they adopt some of the cultural aspects that are native to the younger, born-in-the-cloud providers. While I was the CIO at Dow Jones, one of my primary motivations for partnering with AWS was to assimilate some of Amazon’s culture with our own. I wanted the same tools that enabled Amazon to be laser focused on the customer, move quickly. I was also eager to develop a DevOps culture that encouraged experimentation. Many of these younger providers — 2nd Watch, Cloudreach, Cloud Technology Partners, Minjar, New Relic, App Dynamics, Chef, Puppet, CloudEndure, to name just a few — are finding new business for the very same reason.

This is definitely not to say that the staple of large, existing service providers and tools aren’t also quickly evolving to take advantage of this shift. In many cases, it’s more appropriate to leverage an existing relationship to transform your business and/or culture. AWS recently announced a new joint business group with Accenture, and we are working together to help several large enterprises transform their business with offerings around cloud strategy and migrations, big data, analytics, and IoT. Expect more of these announcements in 2016.

Finding Proven Partners in Your Focus Areas

You should always aim to partner with organizations that align with your business objectives. If you’re looking to establish a DevOps competency and want your team to learn how to run-what-they-build, for example, make sure your partner can demonstrate the ability to help you do just that. This is one of the reasons AWS developed the AWS Competency Program. We want to make sure that you’re successful on our platform, and this program will assisting you find partners that are capable of helping you succeed in the areas on which your organization is specifically focused. We are currently helping the ecosystem develop competencies in the areas of DevOps, mobile, security, digital media, marketing and commerce, big data, storage, healthcare, life sciences, Microsoft workloads, SAP, Oracle, and, finally, one for migrations coming in 2016.

Whatever your organization’s stance on partnering is, we’d be happy to help you find the right partners to achieve your goals. Drop me a line or comment with some ideas of things that you’d like me to cover in this series, I’d love to hear them.

Keep building,

Note: Engaging partners is the fourth of seven best practices I’m writing about in my new Enterprise Cloud Journey series. The remaining six are: provide executive supporteducate staff, create a culture of experimentationcreate a center of excellence, implement a hybrid architecture, and implement a cloud-first policy. Stay tuned for more on each of these.

Stephen Orban

Stephen Orban

Stephen is the GM (General Manager) of a new AWS service under development, and author of the book “Ahead in the Cloud: Best Practices for Navigating the Future of Enterprise IT” Stephen spent his first three-and-a-half years with Amazon as the Global Head of Enterprise Strategy, where he oversaw AWS’s enterprise go-to-market strategy, invented and built AWS’s Migration Acceleration Program (MAP), and helped executives from hundreds of the world’s largest companies envision, develop, and mature their IT operating model using the cloud. Stephen authored Ahead in the Cloud so customers might benefit from many of the best practices Stephen observed working with customers in this role. Prior to joining AWS, Stephen was the CIO of Dow Jones, where he introduced modern software development methodologies and reduced costs while implementing a cloud-first strategy. These transformational changes accelerated product development cycles and increased productivity across all lines of business, including The Wall Street Journal,, Dow Jones Newswires, and Factiva. Stephen also spent 11 years at Bloomberg LP, holding a variety of leadership positions across their equity and messaging platforms, before founding Bloomberg Sports in 2008, where he served as CTO. Stephen earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science from State University of New York College at Fredonia.