AWS Well-Architected Partner Slalom Helps Customers Optimize Use of AWS
Slalom is an APN Premier Consulting Partner
Slalom has garnered new business, helped its customers to optimize their Amazon Web Services (AWS) environments to reduce costs, and created clear, step-by-step plans for customers’ minimum viable products by joining the AWS Well-Architected Partner Program. The full-service global consultancy firm has 1,806 AWS certifications and 1,047 certified AWS consultants, using that training to conduct 69 Well-Architected Reviews in the 12 months prior to July 2020 and deliver 441 AWS projects through May 2020.
Partner Success Story - Slalom
Slalom is a full-service consultancy focused on strategy, technology, and business transformation that operates in the United States, Australia, Japan, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Founded in 2001 and headquartered in Seattle, Washington, the company serves more than half of the Fortune 100 and one-third of the Fortune 500 companies, as well as startups, nonprofits, and other organizations across 14 industries, including financial services, media and entertainment, and utilities and energy. “There’s not a sector that we are not interested in supporting,” says Scott Hankinson, Practice Area Lead for Slalom’s Atlanta office.
Slalom became a member of the AWS Partner Network (APN) in 2012 to support its customers with strategic expertise on AWS projects. The $1.8 billion company is now a leading partner in terms of influenced revenue. In 2017, Slalom joined the AWS Well-Architected Partner Program to learn how to use Well-Architected Reviews to help its customers evaluate their AWS environments quickly and efficiently. The company provides customers with a framework for remediation that adheres to AWS best practices and principles and has garnered new business by training its employees to deliver Well-Architected Reviews. Being an AWS Well-Architected Partner has better equipped Slalom to help its customers optimize their use of AWS, reducing costs and clarifying development plans for their minimum viable products.
Deepening Collaboration to Better Serve Customers
Slalom is a consultancy that specializes in high-impact projects. It walks its customers through everything from strategy and organizational change management to technology implementation and improvements with data.
Slalom was motivated to join the APN by its belief that the cloud is not just a technology platform but also a catalyst for business transformation and growth. “Being a part of the APN gives us access to AWS technical resources and training,” says Hankinson. “And those help us both scale up our own people and deliver better value to our customers.” When it joined the AWS Well-Architected Partner Program in 2017, Slalom met the requirements in 3 months. As many as 150 of its staff members across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada would eventually undergo AWS Well-Architected training. “The training walked our team members through the questionnaires and how to perform Well-Architected assessments,” says Hankinson. After completing the program training, Hankinson’s office almost immediately turned its newfound knowledge into new opportunities. “It gave us an angle for companies that were interested in having an assessment done in our market.”
“Working with the AWS Well-Architected Partner Program helps establish trust and 'credentialize' yourself on AWS Professional Services.”
– Scott Hankinson, Practice Area Lead, Slalom Atlanta
Now, Slalom boasts over 1,800 AWS certifications and has more than 1,000 certified AWS consultants. “I am a firm believer that the more training, the better,” says Hankinson. “The AWS Well-Architected Partner Program training was a great opportunity to engage with experienced AWS resources that came with real-world scenarios that we could walk through before doing our own Well-Architected Reviews. Anytime we can practice before we have to be in front of our customers—everyone gets a better result.” Joining the AWS Well-Architected Partner Program has also helped Slalom collaborate more effectively with AWS Professional Services. “Working with the AWS Well-Architected Partner Program helps establish trust and ‘credentialize’ yourself on AWS Professional Services,” says Hankinson. “Having AWS trust you to do good business is a great way to make sure that more of it comes your way.” By May 2020, Slalom had already delivered 441 AWS projects.
Designing a Clear Plan for Customers through AWS Well-Architected Reviews
But Slalom doesn’t simply guide migrations or provide consulting; it also builds software with its customers through its build-as-a-service arm, Slalom Build, which is also capable of performing Well-Architected Reviews for customers. The firm’s 11 Build Centers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia develop custom software and data products, from web and mobile applications to modern data platforms and more. Many of Slalom’s product builds are focused on delivering a minimum viable product that can be quickly launched to generate feedback for future development. And because Slalom believes every project is as unique as a personality, the company uses an internal product engineering methodology—instead of off-the-shelf techniques—to help define each customer’s minimum viable product, ensuring consistency in its delivery with speed and quality.
The Well-Architected Review enables Slalom to provide customers that are launching a minimum viable product with a clear, step-by-step plan for the progress of that product. “The excellent goalposts within the Well-Architected Framework let you see what a mature product evolution should look like,” explains Hankinson. “So it’s easy to scope out the absolute minimum things we must have for anything that we ship, the things that are nice to have, and the things that we would love to have that we can add in later versions of the product. Being able to point to a cloud framework that is not ours often adds a lot of strength to the discussions with our clients.”
Slalom developed several training modules for its staff—particularly engineers and architects—to familiarize them with the AWS Well-Architected Framework before they work with customers. The training imparts knowledge of the five Well-Architected pillars (operational excellence, security, reliability, performance efficiency, and cost optimization), provides examples of how to implement them, and includes a Q&A and a contact list of key staff involved in the Well-Architected Review process. For one customer, Slalom performs quarterly Well-Architected Reviews to track improvements over time and prioritize certain remediations. Slalom performs a series of 1- to 2-hour training modules on each of the core pillars targeted to best serve the customer.
While Slalom prides itself on providing its global offices a certain degree of autonomy, training helps facilitate consistent business practices across global operations. “It absolutely helps us provide common language that we can share across offices and helps us to evaluate workloads evenly—especially when we talk about some of the global customers that we interact with,” says Hankinson, calling out one particular customer with offices in Canada, Europe, and the United States. “Being able to use the Well-Architected Framework to evaluate platforms across all those markets consistently and compare them against each other adds tremendous value.” In the 12 months before July 2020, Slalom conducted 69 Well-Architected Reviews.
In one current project, Slalom is using Well-Architected Reviews to assess an AWS customer’s legacy applications and then migrate them to governed accounts that have strong security protections. Initially, Hankinson was the customer’s only Slalom consultant. But over the past year, a full-time team of four has been working for the customer, which has led to a significant revenue impact. The impact was so valuable that the customer extended the contract for the Slalom team during the COVID-19 pandemic, even while needing to let go of other contractors.
To optimize costs for all customers, Slalom also created a pilot training module that will introduce customers to various options, and the company is internally developing a tailored cost-optimization offering to find savings for those customers.
Slalom has also integrated the Well-Architected Framework into its AWS | Slalom Launch Centers, launched in Seattle, Chicago, and Atlanta in December 2019. These centers are intended to help customers accelerate their IT modernization and migration strategies to achieve fully optimized, cloud-based operating models. “The purpose of the Launch Centers is really tailored toward helping customers that are stuck get unstuck,” says Hankinson.
Securing a Future for Slalom and Its Customers
The Well-Architected Reviews also aid Slalom in exposing potential vulnerabilities within its customers’ businesses. “We can highlight the areas where a customer has a shortcoming that it may not be aware of—maybe it’s not being as highly available as it thinks it is,” says Hankinson. “Sometimes it takes a little bit of extra work to make sure it’s getting that benefit within the cloud. Helping customers realize the benefit of the environment that they’re operating in is one of our core missions.”
As a member of the APN and AWS Well-Architected Partner Program, Slalom has been able to better reach customers by offering them valuable insight on optimizing their AWS environments for their business. “The more we invest in our collaboration with AWS, the more we get back,” says Hankinson. “Whenever we do something together, it always pays off.”
Partner Tier: Premier
Partner Type: Consulting
Founded in 2001, Slalom is a full-service consultancy focused on strategy, technology, and transformation for organizations ranging from startups to Fortune 100 companies. It also develops customized software solutions through its 11 Build Centers located around the world.
APN Program Participation
Published August 2020