The cloud has revolutionized how companies approach their technology needs. It’s enabled small organizations to have access to applications and resources previously only available to enterprises. It’s evolved the way that large companies approach development projects and user experience. And across the spectrum, it’s created cost-efficiencies for businesses.
There are few companies that aren’t using the cloud for something. For those that have made the leap beyond using SaaS applications to developing them, or those that are looking to drive their infrastructure into the cloud, many choose Amazon Web Services, or AWS.
Just because a company has chosen AWS for its cloud services, however, doesn’t mean they understand how to make the most of it. This is where an AWS partner can help. Knowledgable and experienced on the platform, AWS partners have a firm grasp of the variety of services and offerings on AWS, and which is best for a project’s needs.
Because AWS partners are so important to the ecosystem, many technology providers have become partners. Today, there are literally thousands to choose from. So, when the time comes to choose an AWS partner, how do you find the one that’s right for you?
Two Kinds of AWS Partners
There are two different kinds of AWS partners – consulting partners and technology partners. Depending on how you’ll be using your cloud services you may need one kind or the other, or a partner that does both.
In the AWS partner ecosystem, consulting partners are what most organizations imagine when they think about bringing in a company to assist with technology needs. Consulting partners are professional service organizations that can help build custom applications in an AWS environment, design infrastructure, migrate environments or applications to the cloud, and even mentor and train your staff on AWS.
Traditional roles that AWS partners fill are things like managed service providers (MSPs), systems integrators (SIs), consultancies, digital agencies, and value-added resellers (VARs).
Consulting partners span the range of professional service organizations, from large consultancies and integrators to smaller boutique providers. As expected, the larger firms have a wider bench of consultants available but tend to be pricey and their experience is usually clustered around the needs of Fortune 100 companies. Smaller organizations may not have a significant number of resources available, but they are generally more agile and flexible and have experience with a wider range of projects, especially those that stretch what AWS can do. In short, smaller boutique shops may have more hands-on experience with AWS.
AWS technology partners are a little different. Instead of being professional services “for hire”, these partners offer applications and tools that sit on top of the AWS APIs. These aren’t partners in the traditional, professional services sense. Instead, they are reminiscent of the companies you’ll see listed in the Salesforce Marketplace.
Some organizations offer both types of partner services. An organization that develops tools to sit on top of the AWS platform may also be available as systems integrators or project consultants.
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Qualifications to Consider When Choosing an AWS Partner
While it’s important to understand the kind of partner you need for your AWS implementation or project, there are still thousands to choose from. To find the best AWS partner for your company, you’ll want to look at a few of their qualifications to make a determination.
Like with many technologies, it’s hard to find a partner with a significant number of years of AWS experience under their belts. What’s really important is the depth and breadth of a partner’s experience with the cloud provider’s solutions.
While a large systems integrator may be able to point to multiple years of experience with AWS, a smaller organization may have consultants with more extensive experience building applications, migrating services, and designing infrastructure for the cloud, simply because it’s been an area of focus for them.
Areas of Expertise
Are you looking to port a custom application to the cloud? Perhaps you’re looking to move large portions of your infrastructure on to AWS. Or maybe you’re in the midst of a transformation that involves breaking up a monolithic application into microservices which will then be served from your AWS implementation.
Each of these project types has its own complexities, so when looking for a partner you should identify if they have experience in your area of need.
It’s easy to say that you’re a software development group that is an AWS partner. But has that group focused on cloud development and the specific techniques and technologies that optimize a cloud implementation? Or have they simply built an application that sits in the cloud?
AWS offers services tailored to regulated industries, like healthcare. You’ll be able to narrow the field of potential partners if you look for companies who have worked within the constraints and with consideration for those requirements. For instance, a partner with AWS Healthcare competency will be able to more readily work with the HIPAA compliant services that are part of AWS.
While it may seem like a strange consideration in today’s digital world, a partner’s location can make a difference to some companies, regardless of project size. For instance, you may want to work with a Philadelphia AWS partner if that’s where you’re located if only to facilitate the occasional face-to-face project meeting.
Finding the right AWS partner can seem like a daunting task. Having a broad range of choices makes the process almost as difficult as if there were few options available. Who do you trust? Who has the experience and skills to get the job done right? Making sure that the partner you’re considering has a cloud mindset, experience, and the skills you need will narrow the field of choices. You’ll then be able to refine the list further based on your preferences, like location and project management type. Using these criteria as your guide, you’ll successfully find an AWS partner that meets your needs.