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Three tactics for choosing an AWS technology partner

If your enterprise lacks in-house AWS skills, try outsourcing a new cloud project. But the quality of the firm might mean the difference between success and failure.

Are you planning to implement Amazon Web Services but have no AWS skills in-house? You're not alone. As AWS grows in popularity, the numbers of qualified architects, developers and admins are not keeping up with demand. Many enterprises are reaching out to AWS' professional service partners to acquire these skills.

However, not all AWS professional service firms are created equal. Selecting the right firm -- big or small -- can make or break your first or second AWS project. So, how do you decide on a partner? Here are a few steps you might find useful:

1. Consider the number of people in the firm that hold AWS certifications. While certifications do not guarantee good service, they do show the firm has invested in their workers' skills and expertise.

Large and small firms should be able to provide you with the number of AWS-certified people and their types of certification(s). AWS requires a certain level of certification to become a partner.

2. Determine how many projects the firm has executed based on the number of AWS skilled staff members. Coming to this number involves some simple math:

Firm 1: 100 certified professionals, 10 completed projects

Firm 2: 10 certified professionals, 12 completed projects

While projects can vary in complexity or duration, Firm 2 would be a better bet based on the project executions despite the fewer number of certified professionals. That firm is more likely to have relevant and valuable AWS experience applicable to your enterprise.

Generally speaking, larger firms are less focused. They must take on AWS and non-AWS projects to support the number of professionals they have on staff. A smaller firm can focus solely on AWS, which means it has more relevant experience and less risk that there won't be the right skills available for your project.

3. No matter the size of the firm, do some due diligence. This means checking references and asking detailed questions as to the firm's ability to drive an AWS project. You're looking for a firm that will take ownership of your project, not just augment your existing personnel; this includes meeting incremental deadlines that are tied to payments.

Feel free to ask the tough questions. Talk to previous and existing clients -- and talk to AWS representatives. And ask to speak with the AWS-certified professionals at the firm. Key metrics to consider are the number of projects they've worked on and project complexity.

Admission of failure is a key data point as well. The better AWS consultants have failed at some point. Admitting to it and understanding what went wrong is important. Those who claim nothing has ever gone wrong are either being dishonest or don't yet have the ideal experience.

AWS skilled professional service firms will be critical in the next several years to help many enterprises reach cloud computing success. At the end of the day, it's not the size of the firm but the quality and experience of the talent within it that will help you reach your cloud goals.

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