As enterprises continue moving workloads to the cloud, they are asking for more specialised skills placing increased demand on partners to deliver on changing customer expectations.
For Amazon Web Services (AWS), a future partner is one that can help customers maximise their journey to the cloud, according to Nick Walton, managing director of ASEAN at AWS.
"We start with what the customer needs and work backwards: in fact, between 90 – 95 per cent of our product roadmap, is based on what customers tell us they want,” said Walton. "It is a culture that we are instilling and not just a catchphrase."
The enterprise has high expectations when moving significant workloads to the cloud, seeking partners with very specific skill sets in, for instance, cloud managed services, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT).
"At the end of the day, the future partner is one that can provide a full suite of products and services to the customer,” said Walton, when speaking exclusively to Channel Asia.
Furthermore, “a future partner,” according to Walton, is “one who could deploy and manage AWS efficiently for customers and help customers save money.”
However, partners cannot do it alone and often need significant assistance from vendors to win customers and provide a first-rate service.
“It is our responsibility to continue to invest heavily in our Amazon Partner Network (APN) program,” said Walton. "This is so our partners can continue to build successful cloud businesses on AWS.
"We need to ensure that we continue to deliver programs that enable consulting partner success and help independent software vendors (ISVs) build their SaaS (software-as-a-service) business on AWS, on top of new partner competencies that help customers select partners with the right expertise."
Specifically, the AWS partner network consists of ISVs and consulting partners such as system integrators and managed service providers.
In 2017, 10,000 new partners joined the provider’s growing network with the majority located outside the US.
"Most of our partners are traditional consultancies and system integrators that are rapidly moving to enhance their AWS Cloud expertise to help customers prepare, migrate, manage, and scale their businesses through an optimised cloud environment,” said Walton.
“As they reflect upon this change, we are also finding the most successful partners innovate and add value on top of the platform."
Hyper-scale cloud computing vendors such as AWS continue to drive up demand for data centre services in Singapore and across the Asia Pacific region.
Furthermore, with more born-in-the-cloud businesses coming online, the demand for leased data centre services looks set to rise for the foreseeable future.
The born-in-the-cloud era began some years back, but as the Asia Pacific region continues to modernise more such organisations continue to increase, and look set to transform the partner ecosystem across the region.
Such partners have embraced delivery of computing resources and software via a cloud-based delivery model, rather than on-premise hardware and licensed software.
“We are starting to see the rise of born-in-the-cloud consulting partners and ISVs that we need to enable and develop on AWS to ensure that they are fully capable in providing customers with the best experience on the cloud,” said Walton.
AWS awarded specific partners at its recent partner summit held in Singapore, where it recognised standout specialists throughout the vendor’s ecosystem, including born-in-the-cloud, traditional, consulting and technology partners.
Singapore-based Sourced Group took the rising star award while home-grown 1CloudStar was recognised as the leading specialised partner across the region.
Worldwide ICT spend looks set to accelerate over the next five years, according to IDC, largely due to the growth of technologies such as IoT, robotics, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and cognitive computing and AI.
"Technologies that we see gaining traction include artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and the Internet of Things,” said Walton. “These technologies are also core to the customer experience we deliver.”
AWS has invested heavily in machine learning in recent years, and while there is no central office of AI within the company, the specific expertise needed for AI has spread across its many teams.
"Our internal machine learning innovations, for instance, help fuel the efforts of other teams, which in turn, build products or services to positively impact customers, and make it easy for developers to make such technologies mainstream,” said Walton.
However, despite this, there is a unit referred to as the core machine learning group dedicated to spreading AI across the organisation and investing in specific applied research related to AI and machine learning.