AWS and the Enterprise

I have seen a couple of industry analyst posting recently about what AWS is upto in the enterprise computing world, it is obviously a major play for AWS to get Enterprise IT Organizations to move their workloads into the Cloud. The trouble is there is a major disconnect: AWS doesn’t get the Enterprise and the Enterprise doesn’t get AWS.

Let’s take AWS first; it was built out of a new generation company, by lots of really bright folks, who for the most part had turned their back on traditional “Corporate America”. They had these amazing concepts, of providing compute power and services to build next generation technology in a self serve mode. Basically anyone with a credit card had a data center and lots of phenomenal new tools available within minutes, it was so easy. One price fits all and that price is not fixed, along with a pay per use model. This is a “cookie cutter” commodity game, with click through legal agreements, some fuzzy terms around ownership of intellectual property, data and other things. (In reality it’s not just AWS, Azure and Google have these components too. The difference here is that Microsoft does know how to sell to the Enterprise, and has EA’s in place that override any click thru agreements etc.).

Now let’s look at the Enterprise; these companies have been doing business with large scale IT companies for years, they expect to be looked after, they don’t do “self serve”, they have whole departments that live and die for legal documents, NDA’s Enterprise Agreements,  and Master Service Agreements. Procurement departments who pride themselves on their ability to negotiate fixed (locked in) prices, complex use/discount schedules, multi-year licensing agreements. These people have to justify their existence. The traditional Enterprise players, Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, SAP CA etc. know how to play these games and they have been doing this in the enterprise for years. Along comes the upstart and there is a big chasm that needs to be bridged.

AWS have recognized that they need to do more to break into the Enterprise, they have been hiring both Account Managers, and Solution Architects to help them attack this different (for them) market segment. They have primarily gone to the traditional Enterprise players to poach talent (a great place to go) and on the Customer side in the Enterprise I’m seeing familiar faces now with an @amazon.com email. Although it’s a major shift for them too. But as yet I don’t see much changing at AWS in terms of what they are offering to support the enterprise. At the simplest level we still have to go to the web-site to setup an account, and enter a credit card before you can do anything. Trying to get NDA’s and EA’s (MSA’s) outside of Amazon paperwork is taking far too long. And to my mind one of the biggest issues is little to no ability to set levels of access within the account. To realize the levels of access governance etc. the enterprise requires we have to resort to third party tools. Interestingly one area I don’t generally see issues with is security and Identity Management AWS have that one nailed.

Here are a few hot seat observations about what AWS needs to consider.

  • There needs to be a better level of trust between AWS and its enterprise customers.
  • AWS needs to be more transparent with Enterprise leaders.
  • AWS need to simplify setting up Enterprise accounts and streamline the legal model.
  • AWS need to educate Enterprise Customers on its business model and as part of that exercise there needs to be a message that there is a different way to do business –probably a tougher sell.
  • AWS execs need to get a better rapport with Enterprise execs and explain these differences – I see lots of AWS interaction with IT Managers, and technical leaders, but not with the ‘C’ suite, and there needs to be education not just about the technical services, but about the business model.

I recently had some discussion with the Enterprise group at AWS (under NDA so I can’t provide specific details). They did acknowledge they need to do more work to engage the enterprise, but, apart from their hiring spree, I didn’t hear much about how.

AWS – I love your platform, I’m in awe of your innovation and products, I think your people are great, please make it easier for my Enterprise clients to work with you!