"AWS is not going to make you rich", said one high-profile reseller boss in an interview with CPI in 2016.
Others have criticised the vendor for "not being particularly channel aware". Another executive has said AWS is "not very flexible" and "doesn't really have a channel programme".
AWS has been available to the market for over a decade, but the tech firm has only been engaging with the IT channel in earnest for the last few years. For many, working with the channel newcomer has become a necessary evil as customer demand for cloud architectures increases.
Even resellers such as Computacenter and SCC have built up cloud competencies. The former has built a 100-strong AWS consultancy unit, while the latter has become an AWS public sector partner in France.
So how have perceptions of AWS changed now the vendor has become a staple in any reseller's, MSP's or consultancy's portfolio, and how much truth is there in the criticisms of its partner model?
UK-based Cisco partner ANS committed to walking away from hardware revenues and instead invest in public cloud around two years ago. The firm is a relatively new member of AWS' partner programme as it looked to rebuild its business around public cloud.
Its CEO Paul Shannon told CPI that AWS' channel model is leagues behind the maturity of hardware vendors such as Cisco. But Shannon added that the vendor has begun hiring channel veterans with decades of experience to improve how it engages with partners.
"They're easy to do business with. They're nowhere near as mature in the channel as some vendors, but that's understandable given that they're essentially a company that has come from being a direct to consumer retailor. The channel model is nowhere near as mature, but they're recruiting people that have been working in the channel at established vendors for decades, so it won't take them very long to get that level of maturity," he said.
Shannon isn't alone in noticing some immaturity in how AWS does business with partners.
Sentia, a pan-European MSP based in the Netherlands, initially built its public cloud business around AWS. But the firm acquired Copenhagen-based Azure partner Hosters last year, and now considers Microsoft as its primary public cloud vendor.
Jakob Norup was CEO of Hosters before it merged with Sentia, and is now its global alliance director for Microsoft.
Sentia shifted to Microsoft precisely because of its pedigree with the channel, claimed Norup, who said the vendor "has a foot in the door to almost every relevant customer in the market".
"They have been providing software for those enterprises for several years. So it is a natural step for the customer when they're getting more and more cloud mature to lean against Microsoft," he said.
The Sentia director also said that Microsoft's channel support far exceeds AWS' and is able to use its extensive partner ecosystem to its advantage.
"Microsoft have over 50 years of experience working with their partners. AWS don't have any experience of having partners because they went directly to the developers and customers.
"And the presence Microsoft has with the partner ecosystem is second to none. If you look at even little Denmark, they have 500 Microsoft field sales people in Denmark, AWS has started off and they have five employees. So it is 500 against five."
He added: "Then, you have the extension of 3,000 Microsoft partners in Denmark connected to this Microsoft machine which also preaches the Microsoft cloud. All of these factors, if you ask me, is why Microsoft are going to come out as the winners in this."
Norup did clarify that Sentia will continue to work with AWS, and will maintain its status as an MSP partner, but the vendor will act as more of a "second gear" for customers that want to leverage multi-cloud.
"Microsoft cloud is our gear in the middle, and around that gear we have some small complementary gears representing all of our technology vendors," he said
"One of those gears is AWS because right now we are not seeing the demand from our customers for multi-cloud capabilities. For sure, I truly believe that it will hit us in the future, but right now it is about going from the customer's datacentres and into the cloud in a more lift-and-shift motion of getting their infrastructure cloud bourne."
Chris Bunch, European boss of cloud MSP Cloudreach, however, jumped to AWS' defence, claiming that there's no immaturity in how it engages with the channel - it's just looking for something "fundamentally different" from the partner ecosystem.
"They're not looking for someone who is just there to process a transaction, because they can do that themselves. I don't think it is a maturity thing per-se. I think they're just fundamentally looking for a different need from the partner ecosystem. They don't need someone to process transactions from a licence perspective for them, they need partners who can help customers to train up, skill and implement," he said.
This article is part of our Europe's Top Cloud Provider series, a new week-long feature from CPI looking at the key challenges, and opportunities, facing the channel's journey to the cloud, and how partners can win in this high-growth market.
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