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  • Larry Gregory

AWS Summit 2016

I had the opportunity to attend the AWS Summit in NYC this week. Boasting 10,000 registrations, this was much larger than the last AWS event I attended.


The structure was 1 day of free access to the keynote (by Dr. Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO), product sessions, and the partner expo (there was also a paid pre-day for training bootcamps). Renting out the Jacob Javits Center and providing lunch to so many unpaid attendees represents a significant investment by Amazon. The event targeted technical decision makers with most of the topics focused on new cloud services (see related product announcements). Amazon is hosting similar events in other cities.

Amazon boasts over 1 million active users per month, an $11 billion annual run rate, and 58% year over year growth. There are similarities with Microsoft’s vision including the Digital Transformation customer imperative and shifting to microservices to facilitate cloud scale. I liked Amazon’s messaging on “eliminating waste” (anything that doesn’t benefit customers) vs. Microsoft’s partner emphasis on increasing consumption.

My purpose for attending AWS Summit was to understand AWS messaging and see how partners in both ecosystems (with Amazon and Azure marketplace offerings) view customer opportunity and channel potential. Partners I spoke to (even those with Azure marketplace offerings) believe Amazon is the cloud incumbent and a safer bet, particularly those providing value-add cloud operations services. Amazon is the IaaS leader with designs on PaaS with Microsoft has focused primarily on PaaS infrastructure and catching up on IaaS.

There appears to be a thriving value-add community around AWS as a platform whereas Microsoft hasn’t published as many APIs and/or wants to retain more control over the core cloud services. From my perspective, Microsoft’s ISV priority is on enabling higher level applications to run on top of Azure (vs. growing operations and infrastructure ISVs).

There remain a lot of similarities between the partner motion at Amazon and Microsoft but when it comes to enterprise selling, Microsoft still has an advantage with superior enterprise presence and renewed focus this year on co-selling with partners. In addition, the partner to partner initiatives at AWS are still a long way away from Microsoft’s partner ecosystem maturity. Amazon is missing an opportunity by not enabling these ISV-SI-VAR partner connections: repeatable customer solutions will drive cloud service utilization at scale.

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