Why Work With An AWS Partner?

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When you’re starting a new cloud project, you can achieve that in different ways: You could have your own team build everything themselves, you could hire a freelancer from anywhere in the world, or you could engage with a third party consultancy organisation.

In this post I’m going to make a completely unbiased case for working with an AWS Consulting Partner on your next project.

Individual Expertise

On any project, success depends on the skills and experience of the people working on it.

AWS consulting partners like The Scale Factory employ consultants who are AWS experts, providing them with learning opportunities to maintain that level of skill in an ever-changing environment.

To be listed as a consulting partner, a firm like ours needs to have a number of people on their team with AWS certifications at Associate and Professional level. At the time of writing almost 80% of our consulting team hold the AWS Solutions Architect Professional certification, demonstrating advanced knowledge and skill in solving complex cloud problems.

There are also a number of speciality certifications covering specific areas of the AWS cloud. Around 70% of our team holds the AWS Security Specialty Certification, showing they have expertise in securing data and workloads.

This sort of assessment can be a blunt instrument when it comes to measuring someone’s knowledge, but rest assured our consultants have proven hands-on experience as well as their shiny certificates.

We also focus on the whole picture: we’ll be thinking about cost, security, and business impact, as well as just the technical aspects of your project.

You probably have some very capable people, with a good working knowledge of the AWS services they use, but on our client engagements we rarely encounter anyone with the sort of broad and deep understanding you can build when solving cloud problems every working day for years.

Between us we’ve seen hundreds of AWS platforms, how they’re built, how they can go wrong. There’s no substitute for that sort of experience: it builds intuition and tacit knowledge which allow us to work more quickly than someone without that background.

Of course, we won’t have the experience in your domain that your staff have built up whilst working for you. Consider whether your engineers’ talents are better spent on solving domain problems in your application than on the AWS specific challenges we can take care of on your behalf.

Team Expertise

Another advantage of working with a consulting partner is that your project will benefit from the attention of a whole team, comprising both consultants and project managers. As a company, we prioritise collaboration and knowledge sharing, so it’s not unusual for colleagues assigned to one project to be offering advice and insight on another, helping us deliver the right solution for you in a timely fashion.

After proving their expertise with particular types of workloads and services, AWS partners are awarded Competency and Service Delivery designations. Partners have their practice assessed, and relevant customer case studies audited by expert teams at AWS.

Service Delivery awards are given for demonstrated expertise with individual AWS products. At the time of writing, we have one each of these for AWS Control Tower, and Amazon EKS (AWS’ managed Kubernetes platform), services we’ve worked with on many engagements.

We were awarded the SaaS Services Competency in 2020 because we’ve demonstrated our strong track record working with Software as a Service (SaaS) businesses. To my knowledge we’re the only AWS partner in Europe focused exclusively on SaaS customers, which makes us your best choice if you decide that working with a consulting partner is the right option.

Guaranteed Outcomes

Your own staff, or individual freelancers, when tasked with an AWS challenge may never have delivered anything like that before, and will struggle to correctly guess how much time they’ll need, making it difficult to plan release dates and marketing launches with any certainty.

When you’ve delivered as many AWS projects as we have, it becomes easier to estimate how long a piece of work will take, and how much it will cost. As we explored in the last section, we have a team of people with a range of skills and expertise - if things look to be slipping compared to our estimates, we can lean on our colleagues to get back on track.

For some types of work, we’re so confident in our ability to deliver a quality outcome on time, that we can offer it to you at a guaranteed fixed price, and in most cases we provide a period of support too. You won’t find many freelancers who are prepared to put their money where their mouth is like that.

Financial Benefits

Speaking of money, customers can be concerned that working with a consulting partner is an expensive endeavour, particularly if they’ve had a bad experience in the past. That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

It’s true that, measured by day rate, we’ll probably look more expensive than a freelancer, but I can confidently say that my team can deliver more work, at higher quality for that money than most of the individuals you’ll find in that market.

In addition, AWS partners have access to funding programs, which provide cash or credits to help offset the cost of a project. In many cases, this can make it cheaper to work with a partner than to hire a freelancer, and more cost-effective than using your own team.

How much funding is available usually depends on the nature of the project and how much more you might be spending on AWS once it’s complete. Migrations to AWS from a data centre or from other cloud platforms are very desirable to AWS, so there’s a lot of financial support available for that sort of activity in particular, but for any new workload there’s usually something we can offer.

These funding programs are only available when working through a partner, and some are only available to partners with specific Competencies.

Ongoing Relationship

Another key difference between working with a freelancer, and engaging a consultancy is that once your project is complete, that consultancy will still be available to you.

We provide options for ongoing support at the end of all of our projects because even after the most diligent of handover processes, you’ll still have questions or concerns. Some of these can only be answered by the people who worked on your project, but many of them can be fielded by any one of our team, and we always have provision in our schedule for taking care of our support customers, a luxury that freelancers don’t have.

In the past, some customers have chosen to engage us even though they have someone with AWS skill in their team, because that person is a risky single point of failure. In those cases, the ongoing relationship has given them some continuity when that person has decided to move on.

How We Work

If you engage with The Scale Factory for your project, we’ll collaborate closely with you the whole way through. If you’ve ever worked with other consultancies, our approach might look quite different from what you’re used to.

Your very first conversation with us will be with someone who has a background in hands-on engineering, and solutions architecture, and who understands the unique challenges facing SaaS companies. They’ll get to the bottom of what your business needs, help you understand what might be involved, and what AWS funding is available for that sort of work.

Once the project kicks off, you’ll join a workshop with the team who’ll be working with you. This will include a technical lead, and a project manager, along with anyone who’ll be hands-on with your platform, and any specialists required for your specific technology stack. At the end of the workshop, we’ll have a shared understanding of your goals, and a high level plan covering how to get there. Our senior project manager Craig wrote more about our workshops in an earlier blog post.

With the plan in hand, the hands-on work will begin. How that’s staffed, and how long it takes will depend on the nature of the project. Typically we work alongside your own team, with daily standups and periodic status updates.

Once the project is complete, we’ll hand over in the format agreed. From then, you’ll have access to our team for support either for a short period, or on a rolling basis as required.

Wrapping Up

I hope I’ve convinced you to consider talking to an AWS consulting partner about your next project, in order to leverage their skills and experience, and gain access to funding programs to help cover the cost.

If your project involves building SaaS products on AWS, I do hope you’ll consider talking to us about it.

We’ve been an AWS SaaS Services Competency Partner since 2020. If you think we might be the right partner to work with you on your next project, book a no-obligation call with us to talk more about it.

This blog is written exclusively by The Scale Factory team. We do not accept external contributions.

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