Recently i obtained the AWS Business Professional Accreditation. In this blog i would like to explain in brief about my learning on the topic.

Necessity of moving to the Cloud

As mentioned in one of my previous blogs, the benefits of moving to the cloud are many. I would like to highlight a few of the major points here.

  • Reduces opex, improves speed and agility of business operations, enhances business outcomes.
  • Accelerates time to business value, improves ROI.
  • Streamlines and enhances operational efficiency, lowers cost.
  • Increases innovation by providing a platform for experimentation.
  • Organizations with a global footprint particularly benefit by migrating to the cloud.

Cloud Deployment Models

In case of AWS, the deployment will be in either the private, public or the hybrid format. Please refer to the description of each of these models done in my earlier blog.

Common Workloads on Cloud

With a lot of positivities to look forward to, next is to know what are the workloads that the customers would want to run on the cloud. Below are a few of the examples.

  • Run customer facing web applications that power eCommerce, mobile, gaming, social media and marketing websites.
  • Create customer business applications to support the need of internal functions like the HR, finance, sales etc.
  • Process big data and high performance computing workloads like medical, imaging, web analytics, BI, genome sequencing etc.
  • Use AWS services that support backup, DR, archiving of business critical data to the cloud.

AWS Cloud Services

The Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud model has transformed the way cloud computing and storage infrastructure services are attained and administered. Because of this, most of the organizations have migrated their legacy on-premise processes and applications to the public cloud, avoiding the costs and effort that goes into tasks like backup, archiving and so on. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a leader in IaaS as mentioned by Gartner. It has the broadest of services to offer on the cloud with more than 175 services.
AWS offers a broad set of global cloud-based products including compute, storage, databases, analytics, networking, mobile, developer tools, management tools, IoT, security and enterprise applications.These services help organizations move faster, lower IT costs, and scale.

AWS Security and Compliance

Security and Compliance is a shared responsibility between AWS and the customer. This shared model can help relieve the customer’s operational burden as AWS operates, manages and controls the components from the host operating system and virtualization layer down to the physical security of the facilities in which the service operates. The customer assumes responsibility and management of the guest operating system, other associated application software as well as the configuration of the AWS provided security group firewall.

AWS responsibility “Security of the Cloud” – AWS is responsible for protecting the infrastructure that runs all of the services offered in the AWS Cloud. This infrastructure is composed of the hardware, software, networking, and facilities that run AWS Cloud services.
Customer responsibility “Security in the Cloud” – Customer responsibility will be determined by the AWS Cloud services that a customer selects. This determines the amount of configuration work the customer must perform as part of their security responsibilities. For example, customers that deploy an Amazon EC2 instance are responsible for management of the guest operating system (including updates and security patches), any application software or utilities installed by the customer on the instances, and the configuration of the AWS-provided firewall on each instance. 

AWS has the concept of a Region, which is a physical location around the world where we cluster data centers. We call each group of logical data centers an Availability Zone. Each AWS Region consists of multiple, isolated, and physically separate AZ’s within a geographic area. Whereas, Edge Location is the nearest Data Center from where contents can be fetched easily. Edge locations are used to provide low latency access to the data.

AWS customers focused on high availability can design their applications to run in multiple AZ’s to achieve even greater fault-tolerance. AWS infrastructure Regions meet the highest levels of security, compliance, and data protection.

AWS Products

The products offered by AWS are compute, storage, databases, security, management tools, networking, analytics, mobile, developer tools, IoT and enterprise applications. I will brief on a few of them as follows.

  • Compute
    The services here can be used to develop, deploy, run and scale workloads on AWS cloud. The most important service in this section is the EC2 compute service. Unlike your local server, you can launch or shut down servers at any time. No up-front investment, no hardware maintenance, elastic or scalable, flexible and secure are some of the prominent features.
  • Storage
    AWS provides low-cost data storage with highly durable, available, scalable and secure place for data. Amazon S3 is the major storage service on AWS. It is highly durable, uses scalable object storage with 99.99% availability and reliability. It is elastic, flexible, low cost and secure with data transfer over transport layer.
  • Database
    Databases are purpose built for specific application use cases. DB instance is an isolated DB environment deployed in private network segments in the cloud. RDS provides API to create and manage one or more DB Instances. Amazon RDS is cost efficient and is easy to administer. It is reliable, elastic, fast and secure.
  • Security
    AWS provides security services like encryption, access management and securing regulated workloads. AWS Identity and Access Management is a web service that enables AWS customers to manage users and user permissions in AWS. The service is targeted at organizations with multiple users or systems in the cloud that use AWS products such as Amazon EC2, Amazon SimpleDB, and the AWS Management Console. With IAM, you can centrally manage users, security credentials such as access keys, and permissions that control which AWS resources users can access.
  • Management
    With AWS Management and Governance services, customers can have both innovation and control in one service. With AWS, customers can enable, provision, and operate their environment for both business agility and governance control. Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring service for AWS cloud resources such as Amazon EC2 instances, Amazon DynamoDB tables, and Amazon RDS DB and the applications you run on AWS. You can use Amazon CloudWatch to gain system-wide visibility into resource utilization, application performance, and operational health. You can use these insights to react and keep your application running smoothly.
  • Networking
    AWS provides the Networking tools and resources that enable you to securely connect to the cloud and then isolate, control, and distribute your applications across EC2 compute resources and all other relevant services in AWS. Amazon VPC is the networking layer for Amazon EC2. Amazon Virtual Private Cloud enables you to launch AWS resources into a virtual network that you’ve defined. It also has the benefits of using the scalable infrastructure of AWS.

AWS Partner Network

The AWS Partner Network (APN) is the global partner program for technology and consulting businesses who leverage Amazon Web Services to build solutions and services for customers. The APN helps companies build, market, and sell their AWS offerings by providing valuable business, technical, and marketing support.

APN Technology Partners
APN Technology Partners provide hardware, connectivity services, or software solutions that are either hosted on, or integrated with, the AWS Cloud. Technology Partner products are often delivered as components to broader AWS customer solutions and can be delivered globally by Consulting Partners through AWS Marketplace, bundled solutions, or directly from APN Technology Partners.

APN Consulting Partners
APN Consulting Partners are professional services firms that help customers of all types and sizes design, architect, build, migrate, and manage their workloads and applications on AWS, accelerating their journey to the cloud. APN Consulting Partners often implement Technology Partner solutions in addition to the professional services they offer.

Partner Tiers

Becoming a Select Partner makes you eligible for a range of funding benefits and marketing opportunities to help you grow your customer base on AWS. As an Advanced Partner, you will be able to take advantage of a wealth of additional resources to continue to grow your customer base and move forward with innovation in your solutions. This is the highest achievable tier for APN Technology Partners . Partners at this level are striving to differentiate their business to AWS customers.

Under APN Consulting partner, the Select Partner and Advanced Partner tier benefits remain the same as above. However, there is an additional tier called the Premier Partner tier. On becoming a Premier Partner, you will be recognized as an industry leader who consistently pushes the boundaries of your AWS-based practices in one or more regions. You’ll be able to take advantage of a wealth of dedicated AWS resources to help you continue to raise the bar.

The APN is structured to be performance-based within the Select, Advanced, and Premier (for Consulting Partners) tiers. All APN Partners join the APN as Registered Partners by signing up and creating a Partner account.

Implementation of AWS at Customer place

Any new technology to be implemented at customer place goes through the Experimentation, Limited Use, Wide spread Use and the Corporate Standard phases. Similarly the journey of AWS customer’s across all verticals would involve the following stages;

  • Development and Test
    In some enterprises, development and test environments account for more than 50% of the overall infrastructure. With AWS, organizations can experiment more with no CapEx, resource projects instantly, eliminate idle servers, maintain consistency across teams.
  • True Production
    In this phase the value of cloud implementation become clear. AWS cloud can be used to develop applications faster, augment existing data center resources, multiple data centers for high availability, auto-scale up and down with demand, hardware upgrades with no downtime, easy global deployment.
  • Mission Critical
    This is the phase during which the customer wants to move mission critical workloads to the cloud. To reach this stage the customer would have deeply invested in leveraging the benefits of cloud.
  • All-in
    This is the phase during which the customer aims to continuously optimize their environment without any physical hardware. In this phase, organizations can see virtual elimination of IT CapEx, flexibility in resource assignments, time to market, zero hardware maintenance, multiple availability zone deployment.

During the initial implementation stage, partners can provide advisory, infrastructure design, readiness and health check services. As customers move workloads to the cloud, partners can provide migration services. In case of long term customer relationship, partners can provide managed services for cloud workloads. Overtime, partners can provide consulting services to innovate and expand client vision.

Cloud Adoption Framework (CAF)

The AWS Cloud Adoption Framework(CAF) helps organizations understand how adopting cloud transforms the way they will function. CAF begins by identifying the stakeholders that are critical to cloud adoption. It groups related stakeholders into 6 perspectives. The perspectives allows us to understand cloud adoption from these stakeholder’s point of view. The perspectives are as follows and can be grouped under 2 categories;

  • Business – Here questions like, the alignment of IT to business needs and results, right skills to implement and manage cloud, right processes in place to minimize business risk etc., will be dealt with.

    Business : Stakeholders are CFO, Finance Managers, Budget Owners, Strategy Stakeholders.
    People : Stakeholders are HR, Staffing, People Managers
    Governance : Stakeholders are CIO, Program Managers, Project Managers, Enterprise architects, Business Analysts, Portfolio Managers.
  • Technical – Here questions like, the right architecture, security requirements, SLA etc., will be dealt with.

    Platform : Stakeholders are CTO, IT Managers, Solution Architects
    Security : Stakeholders are CISO, IT Security Managers, IT Security Analysts
    Operations : Stakeholders are IT Operations, IT Support Managers

Outcome Based Account Management (OBAM)

OBAM is the process, tools, competencies, and dialogue architecture for initiating and solidifying AWS customer-obsessed relationships, fixated on the journey of transforming the seller-customer engagement into a lifelong strategic relationship. It consists of the following four stages that works in a cyclic pattern:

  • Explore
    Preliminary discovery and value hypothesis creation.
  • Engage
    Solidifying credibility, earning trust, qualification & delivery, initial value proposition. This involves initiate, expand and transform phases that may take 18+ months in total.
  • Empathize
    Relationship building and persona-centric engagement.
  • Enable
    Building out account value proposition & defining roles and responsibilities of AWS resources.

Cost Optimization with AWS

Cost optimization is a continual process of refinement and improvement of a system over its entire life cycle. The following processes are used to show cost saving to customers in order to build and operate cost-aware systems that achieve business outcomes while minimizing costs, allowing business to maximize its return on investment.

  • Gather requirements
    Grasp of the current on-premise customer environment and their expectation from AWS.
  • Map requirements to AWS services
    Once the customer needs are identified, mapping needs to be done with respect to AWS services. In the process of refining the requirements along with mapping, frequent meeting with the customer on Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) , capacity and license assessment would be needed. The result would be a project plan with appropriate solution and service instance.
  • Right size service choices
    Right size the service choices like region, instance type, storage to AWS pricing models based on customer requirement. Right sizing is using the lowest cost resource that still meets the technical specifications of a specific workload. You can right size iteratively by adjusting the size of resources to optimize for costs.
  • Evaluate pricing models
    In AWS, there are a number of different purchasing models that allow customers to use services and resources in the most cost-effective way that suits their business needs.The models are On demand, Spot instances, Reserved instances etc.
  • Deliver estimate
    The AWS Simple Monthly Calculator and AWS Total Cost of Ownership Calculator lets one anticipate real-world usage costs for AWS deployments and compare the spends with on premise equivalent. The final Proof of concept ready for submission would need a review from the customer so that it meets all their requirements and can be closed.

GTM Strategy for Partners from AWS

Here i would like to highlight various programs undertaken by AWS to help Partners grow and/or gain traction.

AWS Partner Solutions Finder

The AWS Partner Solutions Finder provides AWS customers with a centralized place to search, discover, and connect with trusted APN Technology and Consulting Partners, based on customers’ business needs. Customers can use the AWS Partner Solutions Finder to find an APN Partner to help design, migrate, manage, and optimize workloads on AWS.

APN Partner Success Stories

Promote your business by creating case studies to outline your success with customers.

APN Marketing Tools

  • APN Marketing Central
    APN Marketing Central provides marketing tools and resources that enable you to generate demand for your solutions on AWS. As a benefit for Select tier and above APN Partners, access self-service marketing campaigns that allow you to quickly co-brand and launch solution-based campaigns or engage participating agencies for select marketing services.
  • AWS Global Sponsorship Program
    The AWS Sponsorship program has helped AWS Partners, customers and brands to grow their business. AWS Sponsorships offer in-person access to over 300,000 AWS customers and prospects each year. Here impactful benefits such as broad networking opportunities, brand awareness, thought leadership, custom activations, turnkey booths, and spaces for personalized customer interactions are offered.
  • APN How-to Guides
    As an APN Partner, you will learn best practices for joint marketing initiatives with AWS.These guides provide simple steps to extend the skills of your marketing team and help you showcase your products and services when marketing with AWS. Find the guides under the Marketing Tab in the APN Portal.

AWS Training and Certification

  • Partner Training
    Free digital training, classroom training, and accreditations designed to help APN Partners better serve customers.
  • AWS Certification
    Exams to validate expertise with an industry-recognized credential.
  • APN Navigate
    APN Navigate is the AWS Partner Network’s (APN) enablement program that provides prescriptive guidance from trusted AWS experts on how to transform your business on AWS. It provides a step-by-step path to help you build, market, and sell as an APN Partner.
  • AWS Partner Transformation Program (PTP)
    The AWS Partner Transformation Program (PTP) is a comprehensive assessment, training, and enablement program focused on helping you build a successful and profitable AWS Cloud business. Whether you are new to the cloud or in the advanced stages of building your cloud business, this program provides partners with the guidance to accelerate the development of your AWS skills and expertise to better serve your customers’ journey to the cloud.

AWS Business Transition

  • APN Training Partner Program
    The APN Training Partner Program is part of the AWS Partner Network (APN), the global partner program for Amazon Web Services (AWS). The AWS Partner Network allows customers to easily identify APN Partners that provide training which will enhance their knowledge of the AWS platform, while providing members of the APN Partner ecosystem with the business, technical, marketing, and go-to-market support they need to build a successful business on AWS.
  • AWS Community
    This is designed to educate about the AWS platform, architecture best practices and new services. AWS brings together the APN cloud computing community to connect and collaborate.
  • AWS Competency Program
    The AWS Competency Program is designed to highlight APN Partners who have demonstrated technical proficiency and proven customer success in specialized solution areas. Attaining an AWS Competency allows partners to differentiate themselves to customers by showcasing expertise in a specific solution area.
  • AWS Marketplace
    AWS Marketplace is a digital catalog with thousands of software listings from independent software vendors that make it easy to find, test, buy, and deploy software that runs on AWS.
  • APN Partner Central
    APN Partner Central is that the partner-only, section of the AWS website that gives all AWS Partners the tools and content they need to grow their business on AWS. Through APN Partner Central, APN Partners will access AWS technical and non-technical coaching, request promoting and business support, transfer partner-focused content, and connect with different AWS partners around the world.

AWS Partner Journey Summary

The various milestones of a partner’s journey with AWS would involve the following;

  • Join the AWS Partner Network
  • Build a Business Plan
  • Get Trained and Certified on AWS
  • Move up the Partner Tier ladder and unlock the benefits
  • Join APN Partner programs that meet specific business needs
  • GTM with AWS