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At its re:Invent conference this week, Amazon Web Services (AWS) revealed it is now employing gamification to encourage partners to improve and expand their cloud practices.

AWS GameDay, now available to all AWS partners, is a collaborative learning exercise that tests the skills of partners by presenting them with real-world challenges that can be addressed using AWS services, architecture patterns, and best practices. As part of that effort, AWS is also setting up an AWS GameDay League, which is made up of teams from global partner companies, who compete against each other to solve technical challenges within a specific timeframe.

Additionally, AWS is making an AWS GameDay Quests Developer Kit (QDK) available, which makes it simpler for partners to create custom modules that can be integrated with the real-world scenarios created by AWS. These scenarios address everything from setting up subscription trials to building test scenarios in sandbox accounts.

Gamification will allow for further innovation

It’s not clear to what degree partners are going to team up to compete against other teams of partners, but what is clear is that gamification has become a mainstream tool for acquiring IT skills. Rather than requiring partners to study technical documents in the hopes of passing a multiple-choice certification test, gamification provides an alternative approach to training based on real-world customer scenarios.

Gamification is not a new idea. However, AWS is now applying it at a level of scale that is unprecedented, at least among channel partners. AWS isn’t making these investments out of the goodness of its heart. Arguably, the biggest inhibitor of cloud adoption today is the shortage of expertise.

AWS GameDay is designed to complement existing partner initiatives that range from an AWS Partner Paths program, through which it provides a curated onboarding experience for partners to achieve competencies such as AWS migration and application modernization and energy, that the cloud service provider also added this week.

What it means for MSPs

Managed service providers (MSPs) can opt to work with just about any IT platform provider they prefer. The reason to go with one provider or another has as much to do with the level of training and sales enablement tools as it does profit margins. Savvy MSPs realize they generate most of their profits from the services they provide.

The rewards that IT vendors make available to those reselling a platform are now a secondary consideration. Instead, MSPs value IT vendors that help them expand the total addressable market. AWS claims partners in 2021 were exposed to hundreds of thousands of opportunities, which represents twice as many as they saw the year before. AWS also notes it saw about four times the number of partner-led migrations year-over-year.

Of course, once the right cloud skills are acquired, the next challenge MSPs encounter is differentiating themselves in a crowded field. There are already more than 100,000 partners of every type participating in the Amazon Partner Network (APN), with AWS now claiming it is signing up more than 50 new ones a day.

Not every one of those partners may be willing to play a game to improve their overall skills. However, those that do are much more likely to stand out in an AWS community where many of the deals involving partners are still driven by an AWS sales team that today engages directly with an ever-growing range of customers.

Photo: Song_about_summer / Shutterstock


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Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

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