DAY 1 : Partnering with AWS Sales

AWS employees passed this everyday on way to SLU cafeteria in 2010

How should partners work with AWS sales teams to help cloud customers together? I remember sitting at my desk at the AWS Seattle SLU campus in Day 1 South (now Invictus) 10 years ago asking that very question. It was my own Day One at Amazon. I had just started as the first sales leader for North and South America and I had a lot to learn (and people to hire). At that time we had tens of thousands of customers per sales person. Since it was the early days of cloud, there was really no established partner guidance.

It turns out the guidance that customers needed then, is identical to what they need now on their public cloud journey. If you are a new seller at AWS, Azure or GCP, you will soon be exposed to the fact that the customer cloud journey isn’t Point A to Point B. The cloud customer partnership is a continuous journey helping to achieve outcomes that strategically align to their business. As your customer succeeds at becoming more agile, the arc of their cloud growth process means more automation, application and microservices development, security, FinOps, performance, reliability, etc.

Being at AWS in 2010 provided an important insight into what customers needed on their journey. However, it wasn’t until I left AWS and jumped in the front seat with customers as an AWS partner that I truly understood how partners needed to work on behalf of the customer. Customers get the most benefit when it’s not just the cloud provider sales team. Customers require software companies (ISVs) and consulting companies (SIs/MSPs) working together also.

I’ve asked some cloud partner leaders that I have enjoyed working with to share their insight into how to help customers together with their public cloud peers.

Preparing to partner with AWS

Joe Henderson, General Manager (LinkedIn), Edrans, an AWS Premier Consulting and Certified MSP Partner.

Pete Goldberg, Director of Partnerships (LinkedIn), GitLab, an AWS DevOps Competency and Advanced Technology Partner.

Q: When an AWS seller reaches out to you about a potential customer, how do you prepare as a partner to engage?

Joe: When we first engage with a customer, we deep dive into their commitment to the underlying cloud platform and use that as the foundation to what we are building with them. We also want to get the confirmation from the customer to engage on their behalf with AWS together. Once we confirm that customer-obsessed approach, we know our AWS peers will be ready to work with us on helping our joint customers achieve the best results.

Pete: With Open Source Software (OSS) approach, we have wide view across many customers so want to understand the use case and what our AWS sales colleague is working to accomplish with the customer.  As part of our preparation for each meeting about a new customer we first look to see if we have a footprint within that customer, then we look at industry the customer is in to understand who else in that space is leveraging us. We will also dig into the geography to see where we may have local references as well.  And of course, we will do our due diligence to understand the customer business. Our overall goal is to come to that first meeting with the AWS Seller with as much background as possible. 

Q: What outcomes do you enable for customers that you try to help AWS cloud sellers understand?

Pete: Our overarching goal for our customers is to help them do three things:(1) Increase their Operational Efficiencies on AWS, (2) help them Deliver Better Products Faster, and (3) Reduce their Security and Compliance Risk across the software development lifecycle.  We are an enabler for customers to build and deploy to public cloud faster – whether it is a migration, digital transformation project or a net new application or service.

Joe: We start with the AWS Well Architected Framework. Beyond delivering these reviews and assessments (Edrans completed over 20 in 2019 with AWS customers), we use that framework for how we think about the customers infrastructure and what problems we are solving. Whether it be improving security, automating for operational excellence or developing a strategy for cost optimization, this allows us to define a path forward with clear desired outcomes that we can execute on with the customer and cloud provider.

Q: How do you both work with each other, and similar organizations, to help customers together as SIs+ISVs?

Joe: As a Premier and MSP partner we focus on delivering our services while recommending a preferred set of tools (ISVs) specific to the customer project/initiative.  Working closely with ISV sellers allows the customer to get faster access and value out of these tools, especially when acquiring them through the AWS Marketplace, our recommended method. 

Pete: We look to companies like Joe’s to really be the enabler and help organizations take a technology platform like ours and help customers accelerate their digital transformations.  The right tool, like ours, can increase the velocity at which customers can build, test and deploy software; but DevOps is more than a tool, its about changing processes with people, and without consulting partners working with them to change their processes the customers will never truly get all the value out of a tool.

Q: What would you want to AWS sellers to know about your organization?

Pete:  As a former AWS employee, I was a strong advocate of the Amazon Leadership principles.  It was what made Amazon different from any other place I had been in my career. My decision to join GitLab was based on having similar principles.  But what is most similar is that my colleagues live them, like Amazonians do. What is also important to know, as an open source company, we are open to our partners and customers contributing to our product.  It takes customer obsession to a new level when you allow them to actively participate in our roadmap and development.

Joe: Edrans has been “all in” on AWS for the past 10 years and is one of the few Premier Partners that have MSP’s and Well Architected Partner designations on AWS. We were founded in Latin America (Argentina), however some AWS team members do not know we also have offices in Europe and North America serving many customers across all three regions. We are obsessed with helping our customers get the quickest value from AWS while ensuring they are ready for the challenges ahead.