AWS Partners By The Numbers

  • December 20, 2023

Here are some numbers from the AWS ecosystem to chew on: 

  • There are 150,000 partners per Dr. Ruba Borno’s keynote (at the 6:40 mark).
  • Although there is no mechanism to search for a partner by tier, when I put “premier” into the Find an AWS Partner page, I get 162 results. If that number is accurate, that’s .1% of all partners. 
  • When I perform the same search for “Advanced,” I get 1053, or .7% of all partners. 
  • If the last two points are remotely accurate, that means 99% of partners are either ISVs, Select Tier, or merely registered on the APN. That number seems high to me, but I can imagine it’s somewhere around 90-95%. 
  • Trying to get to how many of these partners are systems integrators, I typed in “migration,” figuring that was the gateway service for most SIs. This yielded 1185 results. This number is wildly close to the number of Premier and Advanced partners. I can’t say for sure if that’s a coincidence or not. 
  • By my very unscientific method, I estimate that 350 booths were available to partners on the re:Invent show floor. That’s .23% of the total ecosystem investing in a booth. 
  • Also by my best guess, most partners are spending around $200,000-$250,000 on their booth. This assumes a smaller booth, swag being given away, outside costs for things like graphic design, apparel, and T&E. 
  • A recent post from Anissa Gardizy of The Information states that there are 115,000 AWS employees, 60,000 of which are in the sales org.
  • There were 189 events listed for this year’s re:Invent on reinventparties.com when the 35 AWS listings are removed. It’s probably a safe assumption that there is an equal number of events that were not listed on this page, putting that number at 378 events held by partners during the week of re:Invent. 

As I reflect on my fourth in-person re:Invent, one thing became abundantly clear to me; it’s getting harder than ever to capture the attention of end customers and AWS themselves. Every year, the ante is getting upped to attract attendees at events during the week of re:Invent. It used to be that doing a restaurant takeover and putting on a happy hour (rough cost of $150-200k) could get it done. This year, there were multiple events in major arenas with nationally known artists performing. I won’t even pretend to estimate the cost of that. There were ads on the Sphere (rumored to be $500,000 an ad). Being scrappy isn’t making the waves it used to. 

Not only is it getting more expensive, but the ecosystem is outpacing the number of AWS employees (see above - 150,000 partners and 115,000 AWS employees). 

These things combined smacked me in the face to illustrate just how difficult getting started in this ecosystem is - particularly if you are a new entrant. 

To be clear, I strongly believe in being an AWS partner. Our entire business is dedicated to supporting that ecosystem. But I also believe that it’s going to take some changes to how we all think to propel our businesses forward. Here are a couple of suggestions: 

Brand/GTM Matters

No longer can partners afford to snuff their noses at branding. When prospects and AWS are walking that show floor of 350 booths, how are you going to stand out? What about when the AWS sales team is looking at the list of 150,000 partners and deciding who to engage? You need to give significant thought to your GTM strategy, visual identity, what services you’re rallying around, how you are going to market, etc. 

You must ensure your collateral and online presence have tight consistency around visual identity and brand voice and that they stand out. In short, if it doesn’t appear you have your act together in this area, it’s all too easy to assume the same about your product/services and move on to the other 149,999 partners. 

I’ve been told that if you lined up collateral from all AWS partners and took off the logo and company name, it would be very difficult to distinguish one from another. It’s time to be bold to avoid falling into that trap. 

Partners Need to Work Together

It is our strong belief that we’re going to have to stop being “every man for himself.” If you follow me on LinkedIn, I often call this “Hungry, Hungry Hippo.” Partners need to work with one another to share knowledge and coordinate opportunities. Gartner is still predicting massive growth for cloud adoption - meaning there is plenty of work to go around. If we are to align with the AWS Leadership Principle of “customer obsession,” we need to admit that no one partner is the best at all things. We need to create a world in which partners work together to provide the best customer outcomes. 

This was our premise for founding Better Than Services. In addition to the work we’re doing to help partners with technical delivery and marketing, we are putting together a group of partners to share knowledge with one another. You can check out my post on that here. If this is something that interests you, please reach out to me at kclark@betterthanservices.com or respond on LinkedIn. 

Wishing you a fantastic holiday season & healthy and prosperous new year on behalf of the entire BTS team.