Ideally, selecting the correct cloud partner should be as simple and straight forward as the cloud itself.  However, any selection requires time to qualify the right partner according to where your company is at in its cloud journey.  Additionally, the term cloud has been over marketed by all companies in the last several years, even by companies who do not have a cloud offering, which adds confusion to the partner selection process.

We know partner selection is a very important process that is vital to your cloud migration success.  Luckily, it does not have to be a long, drawn out, or difficult process if you look toward best practices.  Here are some suggestions based on learnings, analyst discussions, and market drivers.

Step One

First, you need to determine where you are in the cloud journey. Ask yourself some key questions to help you identify where exactly you are, and where may want to go:

  1. Does my company have a clear vision of how we want to use the cloud?
    • Your vision could take several different forms. One example is having all applications move toward being Software as a Service (SaaS) first, Platform as a Service (PaaS) second and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) third while maintaining a small data center footprint.  Another could be a “cloud first” approach for all new development while “lifting and shifting” everything old to IaaS.  Either way, your vision and strategy need to be clearly defined. If they are not, you definitely need to select a partner who can help you develop a cloud vision.
  2. Has my company selected a short list of Cloud Service Providers (CSP vendors) and prioritized that list?
    • This would include selecting companies that are identified by the likes of Gartner to have a mature cloud offering. If you are focused on IaaS, the Gartner Magic Quadrant is a useful tool to dispel the FUD and find out what the strengths and weaknesses are for each CSP.  For this blog, we will focus on the CSP of IaaS.


Step Two

You now need to evaluate the partner network for those CSPs.  AWS has a useful tool for this on its partner page.  From the highest level, AWS buckets partners in two categories – Independent Software Vendors (ISV) and Consulting Partners (SI).  Further delineation is made only within the SI bucket into three categories – Premier Partners, Advanced Partners and general AWS partners.

  • You then need to ask, are any of my short-listed partners listed as Premier? If not, here is why it matters:
    • Premier Partners are qualified by:
      • Focus on the customer
      • Number of Globally Certified Architects and qualified personnel on staff (AWS proven skill set)
      • Customer imonials
      • Use cases
    • Even within the Premier Partners category there exist differences between partners and their companies’ focus, so it is important to determine what type of partner you need. Ask yourself:
      • Do I need a partner that is more focused on building and managing my data center in the cloud?
      • Do I need a partner that is more focused on application development?
      • Do I need a partner that is a business consultant?
      • Do I want a partner that does everything from strategy to managed services or do I want to handle this myself?


At the end of the day, there are limited partners that have highly skilled staff on AWS. As Terry Wise, the AWS Head of Worldwide Partners, pointed out in a recent article, “We don’t have enough partners in the ecosystem who really understand – and can deliver – cloud managed services.”

Step Three

As you identify your short-list of partners we would highly recommend ing at least two of those partners with a cloud Proof of Concept (POC).  The main reason for the requirement of ing out a partner is that many partners sell with their A Team, but deliver with less qualified staff. The leaves you, the customer, frustrated at the outcome.  Some partners may say they have thousands of AWS users today, but keep in mind that these individuals are not working on AWS projects 100% of the time.  On the other hand, there a few Cloud Born partners, like 2nd Watch, that focus 100% on cloud solutions, delivery, and management.

Final Thoughts

We wish you well in 2015 and will leave you with one final recommendation based on 2014 Q3 and Q4 conversations with budget owners.  The amount of demand for qualified partners is coming at such a high rate (2nd Watch has been growing at 600% in bookings YOY) that we’d advise getting your short-list of partners together soon and qualifying them quickly.

If you fail to build strong partnerships now, there may be more customers demanding work than what the partner supply can handle, as Kurt Marko pointed out in his recent Forbes article.

-Jeff Aden, EVP Marketing & Strategic Business Development