This post is part of a series, which describes Epsagon’s journey as an AWS Technology Partner. See also — How to List your Solution in AWS Marketplace, How to Obtain an AWS Competency and How to Co-sell with AWS.
In my previous post, I focused on WHY to become an AWS Partner and shared what our motivation was. In this post, I will describe the HOW — how we started our Partner journey at Epsagon. I’ll keep calling it a journey, as you will soon see because it is a marathon. Working on the partnerships tiers, as are the building blocks of this journey. Below I will describe in detail, what are the necessary steps for achieving such building blocks.
OK, let’s start!
Set the “infrastructure”
The first three steps in our partner journey were the following:
Step 1: Meeting our Account Manager. Our account manager was our first point of contact in the AWS space. I would highly recommend taking the time to meet your account manager in person (if possible). This relationship, as you will learn along the way, can be very valuable for your business. Your account manager will help with any question you have, will make the right introductions, and give you a piece of advice regarding the best practices in your partner journey.
Step 2: Meeting our Partner Development contact. Our account manager made the Introduction to our Partner Development Representative (PDR). If you haven’t been introduced to your PDR yet, ask your account manager to do so and start exploring the APN (AWS Partner Network) space. *As we grew, we were assigned with a PDM (partner development manager).
Step 3: Open an account at the APN Partner Central. The APN Partner Central is the APN Portal, where you practically do everything — submitting requests, filling applications, adding customers references and so on. Also, on the APN Portal, you will be able to track your APN achievements using “Partner Scorecard.“
Work on your partner application
Now when you are done with the “logistics,” let’s talk about how to become a technology partner and what are the benefits!
Before we dive into the details, you should know that there are three tiers:
- Select (previously called — Standard)
The most basic tier as you could have imagined is “Registered.” Essentially, this tier applies for all companies which are in the process of completing their Select status. Once you have obtained the Select, then you can apply for the “Advanced” tier. So what are the main benefits of each of the categories? What is the difference between being a Select partner to an Advanced partner? Here we go.
Select Tier — benefits and requirements
Select tier — main benefits:
On January 1, 2019, changes to the partners’ benefits are implemented by AWS. Below I’ll share the benefits that I find the most useful for Epsagon. If you want to review the full list, you can find it here.
- Select Partner Logo. Once you are a Select partner, you can use AWS Select Partner Logo. You can put the partner logo on your website page, or any of your collateral.
- Access to APN Marketing Central — there you can find multiple pre-approved and self-served campaigns. Also, you can work on a customized campaign with a digital agency which is recommended by AWS.
- AWS Promotional Credits — you get $3.5K in AWS credits upon payment of the annual APN program fee.
- AWS Promotional Credits for AWS Certification — $300 per Associate Certification and $500 per Professional or Specialty Certification.
- APN Competency Program — according to the information provided by AWS, Select partners are eligible to apply for the Competency Program (previously only Advanced partners could apply). So that means that you can work on your Advanced status AND the competency simultaneously, and save some valuable time! With the new requirements, the criteria for the Advanced tier and the Competency have a few touching points (see the discussion here).
- AWS Solution finder. As Select partners, we were displayed (and still are) in the AWS Partner Solutions Finder. The APN Solution Finder is a cool tool where companies can search for solutions within the AWS partners network. HOWEVER, in order to find your company, the persons who are looking for a solution have to search for your company specifically. For instance, when Epsagon was a Select partner, you would have to look for “Epsagon” in order find our profile page. Today, as Advanced partners, it is enough to search for monitoring solutions in order to find Epsagon.
SUGGESTION: now, when you are displayed in the APN Finder, take the time to make sure to add some useful information about the company and add your logo.
In my opinion, the Select tier should be just a step in your way to be an Advanced partner. I will not recommend stopping here.
Select Tier — requirements:
The changes to the APN tiers requirements kick in on February 1, 2019. A full and detailed list of the updated requirements, you can find in this post that I wrote about the APN tiers requirements — before and after re:Invent.
Below I will share a few practical insights concerning one of the requirements — submitting “customer references.”
As detailed in the new requirements checklist, one Public Customer Reference shall be submitted as part of the Select tier application. This requirement is supposed to demonstrate your customer experience with your product. The content of the references shall be filled in the APN Partner Central. The application includes a template, where you should fill in the reference’s content in dedicated boxes. When I filled the references, the template included the following fields:
- Company Name
- Problem Statement/ Definition (before starting to use your solution)
- Proposed Solution & Architecture (of your company)
- Start and End Date of Project (approximate)
- Outcomes of Project & Success Metrics
- Describe TCO Analysis Performed (can be estimated, for instance, how much time does your solution saves for customers)
- Lessons Learned
When we started to work on the application, we picked customers in which we have the best relationship with and sent them the above list over an email. Once we’ve got their answers, I inserted them into the portal. When I worked on the Select application, the requirement was to have two internal references. So, I just filled the content provided by the customers and submitted it. Today, the requirement is for one public reference, so you would also need that the customer will publish its reference (in a blog post for instance).
As you are depended here on the response time of your customers, the first thing I did in this process was to reach out to a few of our customers and try to get their references ASAP. Only after I did that, I started to work on the rest of the requirements.
SUGGESTION: as you will need more references for the advanced tier, I highly recommend reaching out to more than one customer. For the Advanced tier, you will be asked for two references, so if you work on this now, you will save some valuable time later on, and expedite the process.
Advanced tier — benefits and requirements
As I mentioned above, I think that obtaining the advanced tier is a MUST. It opens doors to indefinite opportunities that can help your business in so many ways. I will mention below the benefits I found the most useful for Epsagon (the full benefits list can be found here).
Advanced tier — main Benefits:
As an Advanced partner, you are eligible for the following:
- APN Advanced logo — same as in the Select tier, just this time you can use the “Advanced” partner logo.
- AWS Promotional Credit — in the amount of $5K (upon payment of the annual APN program fee).
- Market Development Funding (MDF) — $15K (annually). If you also have Competency, you are entitled to an additional $5K.
- Joint AWS Case Studies — a written or video case study that shows how your company solves specific challenges of AWS customers.
- AWS Promotional Credit for AWS Certification — $300 per Associate Certification and $500 per Professional or Specialty Certification.
- APN Guest Blog Post — you can publish a blog post on the APN blog.
- Joint Webinars.
- Access to APN Marketing Central (see details above under the Select tier).
- Competency Program — as soon as we obtained the Advanced status, I applied for the DevOps Competency Program. For more details see part III.