re:Invent 2018: Dancing With the Elephant in the Room

By Michael Campbell

I reflected on two interesting days in New York at ISC East; this time it was three days in Las Vegas at AWS re:Invent 2018. I considered not going, but then I was invited to a special partner session reserved for about 200 of AWS’ most brilliant and best looking partners...and me.

You could feel (and hear) the energy of their success - from the crowded corridors in every hotel to the DJ’s who kept the music thumping everywhere you went. An unofficial count was 60,000 registered attendees. I remember the days when there were only 10,000 of us.

Like many AWS partners, there’s a reluctant or cautious engagement with the king (or queen) of the cloud. AWS will post more than $25 billion in revenue in 2018, and there’s an ecosystem that is generating at least $100B around AWS. We all want to ride their coattails. But we also watch the morning keynotes, press releases, and blogs waiting to learn if our market is the one AWS is targeting with a new service announcement. (Service = Product in AWS parlance.)

So I sat riveted to my chair for all 3 hours of the Partner Summit. I was tempted to leave after the first session - a complete yawner. We all listened to the lovefest between VMware and AWS - completely irrelevant to 99.99% of all AWS partners. But then, it got interesting. Terry Wise (VP Worldwide Alliances and Partners) specifically interjected a question about how the other 99% of partners could create and extract value. While we are all doing the delicate dance with the elephant, there are clearly opportunities to deliver solutions across a wide range of AWS services. Two panels of AWS leaders tried to address the subject - one did so very well, the other not so much.

Matt Yanchyshyn is an absolute stud and MVP on the AWS team. He tried very hard to get three of the company’s most prominent product executives to talk about how they were working with partners to drive solutions. He even goated them into a ‘Shark Tank’ like discussion to pitch the value of their products to us partners in the audience… “Tell these partners why they should want to work with your services”. They didn’t bite, nor did they have very good examples. Oh well, you tried Matt.

AWS absolutely has services that overlap with MachineShop. We don’t care, or at least we don’t care now. At their core - AWS is better than everyone in the world at creating infrastructure services. These are the highly scalable, self-service enabled hosting, data storage and all things DevOps. One of the panelists pointed out that Aurora is now the fastest growing service at AWS in terms of adoption. In IoT, the AWS IoT Core service could become valuable in this market segment. We are doing our part to deliver brilliantly simple device management services with AWS IoT Core. We’ll see how the Elephant dance goes in 2019.

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