Creating and maintaining a corporate app store: Strategies for success
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In April 2012, Amazon Web Services launched the AWS Marketplace, a one-stop spot for finding software that runs on AWS. Today, the AWS Marketplace contains more than 1,000 listings in 24 categories ranging from big data to bug-tracking to business intelligence.
The online store is among AWS's fastest-growing services, senior product manager Robert Peterson said: Customer growth has increased by 300% over the past year; usage by those customers increased 50% during the same period.
Today, the AWS Marketplace contains more than 1,000 listings in 24 categories ranging from big data to bug-tracking to business intelligence.
Following are answers to some frequently asked questions about the AWS Marketplace.
What is the AWS Marketplace?
Amazon describes AWS Marketplace as "an online store that helps customers find, buy and immediately start using the software and services they need to build products and run their businesses." It also serves as a new sales channel for software vendors.
What drove AWS to create its online store?
Amazon said customers have been asking for faster, better ways to find and deploy software running on AWS. In a blog post, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels summed it up like this: "The way businesses are buying applications is changing. There is a new generation of leaders that have very different expectations about how they can select the products and tools they need to be successful." Specifically, he said, Amazon created the AWS Marketplace to meet customer demands for choosing software "in a way that was completely in line with the 'cloud experience': no software to install, no sales cycle, no procurement delays and [with] a selection of licensing models to choose from."
Who can shop at the AWS Marketplace?
Any customer who is eligible to use AWS products can shop in the AWS Marketplace. However, customers need an Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud 2 (EC2) account to access the online store.
What types of software does AWS Marketplace offer?
The store offers commercial products targeted to companies and developers as well as open-source software. The three major product categories include:
- Software infrastructure (for application development, databases, operating systems and security, among other areas);
- Developer tools (such as issue- and bug-tracking, monitoring, source control and testing); and
- Business software in categories ranging from business intelligence to collaboration to e-commerce to storage and recovery.
AWS officials emphasize that software sold in the AWS Marketplace is available only to run on Amazon EC2; it's not available for download.
How does the AWS Marketplace work?
Customers pick the preconfigured software they want to buy and launch it immediately using AWS's 1-Click Deployment, which provides a similar experience to the 1-Click ordering option available to consumers on Amazon.com. (If customers prefer, they can skip the one-click installation and develop the software using their own tools.) Their purchases are available either via Software as a Service (SaaS) or as an Amazon Machine Image (AMI).
What is an AMI?
AWS describes an AMI (often pronounced AH-mee) as a template with a software configuration for the customer's server -- for instance, an operating system or an application server. In the case of the AWS Marketplace, an AMI is a template carrying the information needed to boot an Amazon EC2 instance with the customer's software.
How does AWS Marketplace customer billing work?
Like other AWS offerings, AWS Marketplace is pay as you go. For paid software, customers pay only for what they use, either by the hour or by the month, scaling their usage as needed. Charges from the AWS Marketplace are integrated into each customer's existing AWS bill.
Who sells software in the AWS Marketplace?
Vendors are members of the AWS Partner Network, the AWS global program for its technology and consulting partners. They include independent software vendors, value-added resellers and systems integrators.
What companies are among those offering their products in the AWS Marketplace?
Participating vendors include CA, Check Point, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat and SAP, among many other large and small sellers. Open-source offerings include Drupal, MediaWiki and Wordpress.
What requirements must sellers meet to sell their products in the AWS Marketplace?
According to Amazon, vendors must sell "mature production software that has been publicly available for at least nine months" and that fits into one of the store's supported categories. Vendors must also have "a strong track record of customer satisfaction," including being able to provide references from at least 10 customers. They must demonstrate strong, clear business operations and ethical practices. They must place high priority on keeping their products up-to-date and virus-free. And, of course, they must verify that their software runs in the AWS cloud.
How does AWS Marketplace handle vendor payments?
Amazon handles billing for all software purchases and manages payouts to participating vendors.