AWS Introduces Five Paths in Updated Partner Program

Amazon Web Services revealed a major overhaul of its partner program, removing consulting and technology partner types and introducing five pathways for partners to streamline the program, simplify engagement, and expand access from partners to benefits.

Partners can sign up for multiple paths, which officially launch Jan. 31, Barbara Kessler, AWS’s global partner programs manager based in Seattle, told CRN.

“With this we want to introduce a simpler model that gives partners more flexibility to engage with us,” said Kessler. “The model is no longer mutually exclusive by type. A partner can participate in one route or as many routes as is relevant for their business.

[RELATED: Channel Chief Doug Yeum: AWS Eyeing New Partner ‘Paths’]

The five paths cover hardware, services, training, distribution and software, which is the renowned “ISV Partner Journey” that was launched last year for independent software vendors, according to AWS.

Partners who develop hardware devices that work with AWS will join the hardware path. The service path is intended for partners who provide value-added consulting, professional, managed and resale services. The training path is intended for partners who sell, deliver, or integrate AWS training into their offerings.

For partners who recruit, onboard, and enable businesses to resell and develop AWS products and services, the invitation-only distribution path is for them.

AWS could unveil new avenues as trends develop and capabilities evolve, Kessler said. Partners can expect to see more differentiated designations become available over time.

Companies that sign up with the AWS Partner Network receive a dedicated Partner Portal, training discounts, business and technical accreditation content, programs, and benefits, depending on the company.

Outgoing AWS leader Doug Yeum hinted at the new avenues in an interview with CRN earlier this year.

The Amazon Partner Network includes more than 100,000 partners in more than 150 countries. More than 50 partners join the network every day, Kessler said.

Partners saw hundreds of thousands of opportunities in 2021, which is more than double the number of opportunities shared with partners year over year. AWS also saw about four times as many partner-led migrations year over year, she said.

Tim FitzGerald, vice president of global infrastructure as a service at Ingram Micro, a distributor based in Irvine, Calif., Told CRN he liked the revamped AWS Partner Program and thinks he should help partners learn more about their AWS practices.

AWS’s recent investments reflect how the company’s executives see the channel as a way to continue to evolve its offerings, FitzGerald said.

“Today, they see the channel as a strategy accelerator,” he said.

Distribution of the partner path

Each partner journey has several stages, with partners gaining new benefits as they progress through the journey and their progress is visible on their partner portals. AWS has also redesigned the badges that partners receive and can display on their own websites, Kessler said.

The paths begin with the inscription. Depending on the path (s) selected, partners will already have access to certain AWS partner tools such as SaaS Factory tooling, training discounts, Blueprints and Quick Starts, automated reference deployments created by solution architects and AWS partners.

After the registration step is registration, where partners choose the path (s) that apply to their business. Partners are then confirmed by providing billing information for the annual Amazon Partner Network Fee. Those fees will stay the same after the Paths launch, Kessler said.

After registration, partners go through validation. Validation varies for different paths. Participants in the hardware path can complete qualification assessments of new devices, for example, while participants in the software path take basic technical exams. The portals will also provide warnings before validations expire, Kessler said.

Based on feedback from partners and customers, AWS will maintain levels for services and training paths, Kessler said. The service path offers Select, Advanced or Premier levels. The training course offers selected or advanced training levels.

Once validated, partners can be listed in the internal Partner Discovery Portal used by sellers and in the Partner Solutions Finder that any customer can use.

After the validation step is differentiation, where partners can acquire a competency or a partner program designation, for example. At this point, partners can get funding for market development, increased visibility for co-selling, prioritization of research tools and other benefits, Kessler said.

“We have a lot of partner programs, and we think that’s actually very important because our partners do a lot of different things,” Kessler said. “Customers are looking for exponentially growing use cases and partners who can help them fix them. It is therefore important that we continue to offer new designations, new differentiation programs, other types of resources to partners. But just as important is that we make it easier for partners to navigate and find what is most relevant to them.

Some elements of the previous version of the AWS Partner Program will be retained, Kessler said.

“Our partners will find by participating in courses, they will not lose any of the badges they have already earned, no designation benefits, those that remain intact and result in the new model because we believe that continuity and consistency and partners knowing what to expect and winning is of crucial importance, ”she said.

Ahead of the January launch of the Five Paths, Kessler said AWS partners should update their Amazon Partner Network company profiles and search for invitations to relevant PartnerCast webinars on the paths.