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AWS resellers can put a silver lining in your cloud

All the choices on AWS can be overwhelming, particularly if it's your first cloud effort or it's time to expand. That's where AWS partners can help.

Sometimes you really can have too much of a good thing. All the applications, options and choices on Amazon Web Services (AWS) can be overwhelming, particularly if it's your first cloud effort or it's time to expand. That is where the AWS Global Channel Reseller Program comes in. The channel reseller program lets qualified partners resell AWS services to both commercial and public sector customers.

"What's great about AWS is there is so much, you think, 'What can't I do?'" said Forrester Research's vice president James Staten. "But then you realize there is so much, you aren't sure what to bring."

The early adopters of AWS "didn't care about the chaos," Staten said. "But companies moving in to the cloud now or trying to do more aren't sure where to go." And many of these companies will need help.

From systems integrators to value-added resellers, managed service providers and digital agencies, AWS channel resellers have a proven track record of helping customers get the most out of AWS.

Here is a look at four successful, and very different, AWS channel reseller partners.

NordCloud -- international AWS specialists

Finland-based NordCloud is a three-year-old cloud consulting and management company built from scratch, as founder and CEO Esa Kinnunen described it. Kinnunen and his co-founders saw not only the potential in the cloud but also that there was little expertise in the European market. So they built a company by only hiring cloud-experienced employees.

Today, NordCloud, an AWS premier consulting partner (Amazon's highest level) with 50 employees, operates in six European countries including the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway and Germany. The company specializes in automating the public cloud for customers. Whether it's choosing the right cloud platform (NordCloud works with all of them), maintaining a service-level agreement or optimizing cloud resources through load scaling, "we make it happen from A to Z," Kinnunen said.

About half the company's customers come to NordCloud because they started in the cloud on their own and became stuck. The remainder of their customers know the cloud is a good idea but need the consulting partner's help to get started. "We try to guide our customers through the journey," Kinnunen said. "We really want to make the cloud a good thing."

Full360 -- where big data becomes fast and wide

Focusing on business intelligence and data warehousing, Full360 is an advanced consulting partner for AWS and has been on the platform since 2007. "We like to say we make your data dreams come true," said Eric Valenzuela, director of business development. Full360's target customers have big data that would be best utilized in the cloud but may not have the internal staff or expertise to tackle the job. Using what the company calls "elastic performance management," Full360 can stand up an Oracle stack in the cloud in three or four hours, a job that would take less experienced people three to four weeks, Valenzuela claimed.

Full360's team of engineers and developers average 15 years of experience each, using everything from Oracle's Hyperion to HP's Vertica, Jaspersoft and RedShift. The company's data warehouse offerings help companies analyze, monitor and create reports on diverse data sets in near real time. "We become an insurance policy for managed services," Valenzuela said.

Like other channel partners, Full360 sees a lot of customers that have tried the DIY approach or have chosen a less specialized partner that can't handle truly "big" big data. And because Hyperion is very specialized and not an everyday application, Valenzuela said customers quickly realize it makes more sense to outsource it than pay for an IT specialist. "We do see a lot of Hyperion customers who just really feel they're not getting the love they need," Valenzuela said. "That's where we come in."

Foghorn Consulting -- putting the enterprise in the cloud

Foghorn Consulting has worked with AWS since 2008 and is an advanced consulting partner. The company, founded by IT professionals, focuses on helping enterprise customers make the best use of the cloud. And that's not necessarily easy to do without some thought, said Foghorn principal Peter Roosakos. "Amazon has an amazing set of building blocks," he said. "These tools are not solutions, however; they are infrastructure, application and deployment components. When architected poorly, the same pitfalls of traditional infrastructure apply."

To solve that problem, the company's enterprise cloud consulting service works with customers to spell out the infrastructure strategy, design the architecture, forecast the cost and only then implement the strategy. Foghorn also can manage the entire implementation from end to end.

"We are a key partner for customers with a hybrid cloud strategy," Roosakos said, because the founders and consultants have built and managed Web-scale infrastructure in the enterprise since the late 1990s.

AWS partners know how to work with AWS partners

Who better than AWS partners to know how to work with AWS partners? We asked a handful for their best advice.

1. Have a plan. Whether it's BI or mobile app development, know what you want to do in the cloud and be specific with your partner.

2. Don't have a plan, but make one with your partner's help.

3. Partners are less expensive than you'd think. Many AWS resellers offer the same prices that you'd pay to use the service on your own. But they also have custom offerings that can be integrated easily. "Based on the current AWS model, you get more service for the same price by purchasing through a reseller," explained Foghorn Consulting's Peter Roosakos. "Why would you pass that up?"

4. Bigger is not always better. Currently, AWS reseller partners number 278, meaning you have many options. Make sure your partner company's expertise is what your business lacks.

5. Do your homework. Ask to speak to existing customers, and when you do, make sure to delve into how exactly this partner delivers services. That's the best way to ensure the partner is a good fit for your company.

6. Ask the partner to critique you. You'll get an idea of the culture, the process and the "fit," and you may hear some suggestions you can run with. Also, this is a great way to see if the partner is an "in the weeds" provider or someone who has a bigger vision.

7. Find out how platform-exclusive the partner is. Situations can change, so it's good to know if a partner has other platform options.

8. Be prepared for a long-term relationship. If you're partnering in the development area, that's not a quick hit. Make sure you're comfortable with that level of commitment.

9. Put a face on it. Make sure you know, and have spoken with, the people actually doing the work for you. Chemistry is important.

Burnside Digital -- building apps in the cloud

Mobile, cloud and Web developer Burnside Digital has worked with AWS for eight years and is now an advanced consulting partner on the platform. Unlike many other partners, Burnside focuses exclusively on helping companies develop software in the cloud -- from the idea stage to AWS migration and management.

Burnside president Omid Rahmat said the company offers different partnering services depending on need. "We are pure pay-to-play cloud-based applications," he said. "We may be doing prototyping for a larger organization or being a contingent dev team for a startup." Rahmat said the company uses a three-stage process: a two-day intensive discovery period to make sure everyone is on the same page, followed by a development stage and then ultimately deployment.

In today's market, it's vital to have a development strategy that includes the cloud, Rahmat said. "If you don't, you are going to be left behind."

About the author:
Valerie Rice Silverthorne is a writer and editor with nearly thirty years of experience covering business, trade, technology, real estate and lifestyle trends. She was an award-winning business writer for The San Jose Mercury News and was a Forbes Magazine top "30 under 30" journalist. She was the editor of ZDNet.com, PC Week/Inside, and a senior executive editor of PC Week and Electronic Business. She works as a freelancer writer from her home in Amesbury, Massachusetts. Contact her at valerierice@gmail.com.

This was last published in January 2015

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Amazon isn't much help unless you pay them or are taking down a huge deal. We used a consultant for our implementation, well worth it.
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