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AWS IQ marketplace taps demand for AWS experts

AWS is at work on IQ, a job marketplace that matches AWS experts with customers. Similar in appearance to the likes of Upwork, IQ is set for launch later this year.

AWS' latest project is a marketplace where AWS experts can take on contract assignments from customers who tap the service.

AWS IQ is now in beta, with early registration available for those with at least one certification from the cloud vendor, according to IQ's homepage. It will be open to customers later this year. Public information about AWS IQ is limited, but its website includes a plea for participation from AWS experts.

"Often, customers planning new projects have questions about design, configuration, or cost," the company stated. "Get started on AWS IQ to tackle interesting projects, reach new customers, and scale your business."

IQ will provide AWS experts not only with a perch to find business, but also infrastructure for project tracking, customer billing, invoicing and payments, the site states. Eligible participants must be based in the U.S. and have an associate, professional or specialty-level AWS certification. Professional-level and above AWS certification exams are considered to meet fairly rigorous standards.

AWS declined to provide more information about IQ, such as its planned availability, how AWS will govern the site to help customers and AWS experts find each other, and its revenue model. Recent public job postings related to AWS IQ's internal development, such as one for a software engineer, shed little light on those questions.

AWS pros voice caution over IQ

Some AWS professionals are skeptical about IQ, which appears to have no equivalent in other large cloud provider ecosystems. They suggested IQ is a manifestation of AWS' thirst for growth, particularly at the lower end of the market where there are 28 million small businesses in the U.S. alone.

Brendan Caulfield, co-founder, ServerCentral Turing GroupBrendan Caulfield

"My take is it'll become the 'Upwork for AWS-certified people,'" said Ryan Marsh, a DevOps and serverless expert at consultancy TheStack.io in Houston. "I can see how [the] 'your margin is my opportunity' Bezos would go for this, but it's going to make a mess of the certified architect community."

Upwork is one of many sites geared to match freelancers with contract work. It has come under criticism, like other "gig economy" platforms, that it's merely a vehicle that compresses contractors' rates, and in turn attracts a lower grade of talent.

AWS IQ will probably meet a latent market demand because that's how customers behave and markets work, Marsh said. But it will be problematic if IQ becomes inhabited by consultants that advertise especially low rates, he added.

A May 14 search on Upwork surfaced numerous self-described certified AWS architects, with hourly rates that range from $25 to more than $100.

AWS IQ comes shortly after AWS toughened managed services partner requirements to help customers shed partners who lag or lack the desire to meet a higher bar.

"In general, I think it is a good idea," said Brendan Caulfield, co-founder of ServerCentral Turing Group, an AWS managed service provider in Chicago. "It's the first step for AWS to address a major concern in the market -- limited qualified resources that can help business with their cloud initiatives."

However, customers should exercise caution when they vet resources through AWS IQ.

In the midmarket or enterprise space, the benefit of this will be limited.
Brendan CaulfieldCo-founder, ServerCentral Turing Group

"I don't believe engaging one-off resources through a tool like IQ is a path for all customers," Caulfield said. "Obviously, for small business with relatively basic or low volume needs, this could be all that is needed. In the midmarket or enterprise space, the benefit of this will be limited."

Then there is the question of which types of would-be experts are drawn to AWS IQ. Qualified and quality resources likely have full-time engagements, and the best cloud engineers draw substantial salaries.

"Resources that are available through a platform like IQ may be those who do not want the responsibility of full-time employment, which would give me pause if I were bringing those resources on to fill a significant role," Caulfield said. "If a resource becomes important to a firm and decides to exit to take a job, or exit for any reason, it can be tremendously disruptive."

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