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AWS’ Sandy Carter: Partners ‘Essential’ to Cloud Data Migration

"Data has gravity,” she says. Find out what the No. 1 public cloud provider means, and where the channel fits in.

Kelly Teal

April 23, 2021

4 Min Read
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Amazon Web Services wants its MSPs, VARs, consultants and other channel experts to understand and embrace cloud data migration.

“Data has gravity. And if you are a partner today, you need to consider the importance of data and how to help customers build a data strategy.”

That’s the assertion from Sandy Carter. Carter, vice president of worldwide public sector partners and programs at AWS, stands at the helm of the public cloud provider’s data efforts.

Consider this: Fifty-six billion devices will generate 79 zettabytes of data by 2025. Nearly 30% of that data will require real-time processing. Those figures, from IoT Business News and IDC, emphasize the increasingly pressing need for hosting data in the cloud. That way, organizations can access and respond to their information from anywhere, at any time, at speed.

Channel partners, Carter says, are positioned to meet the cloud data migration need. Moving customers from siloed, premises-only, unstructured repositories into cloud data lakes will lead to positive outcomes, she says. That’s what partners aim to do every day for their end users. Now, think about data, and making sense of it, as another service to offer.

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AWS’ Sandy Carter

“Data has become super strategic,” Carter told Channel Futures. “It gives insight into the business. … Data is the soil from which everything else grows.”

The maturation of artificial intelligence and machine learning, combined with cloud capabilities, have made the long-held promise of “big data” more achievable. For more than a decade, industry vendors have hyped the term. They’ve insisted that corralling and analyzing data lets end users better understand and operate their businesses. That’s true. But much of the progress has remained the provenance and privilege of large organizations with big budgets and lots of people.

The Soaring Data Opportunity

That is, however, changing. These days, more platforms incorporate AI and ML. And, of course, cloud adoption has accelerated among organizations of all sizes. Now, even the smallest of clients may reap the benefits of cloud-hosted data. Carter has been leading AWS’ charge to bring that message to partners.

Earlier this month, she spoke at AWS’ Public Sector Summit, discussing what machine learning and a data-driven approach to cloud migration mean for partners. And, in an April 21 blog, she reiterated and expounded upon many of those same concepts. For MSPs, consultants, ISVs, resellers and other partners, the key lies in giving customers the resources to attain valuable insights, she says.

“It’s not just about getting data to the cloud but ensuring that data is used in a viable way for a customer,” Carter said.

In fact, she added, data “increases the power of the cloud and enables partners to create scalable and repeatable solutions. … It’s a really powerful approach and creates many more opportunities for our partners to really showcase value.”

AWS and Carter tout all that as “data-led migrations.” Those differ from application-led migrations to the cloud. In those instances, data are housed on-premises, say within SAP, then moved into the cloud. But moving all data – from Excel spreadsheets, from various applications and even from employees’ institutional memory – represents a larger effort. That information then pools into a lake where it awaits analysis and subsequent action.

“It’s above and beyond an app migration,” Carter said.

‘Data Really Opens the Door for Partners’

Given the complexity of cloud data migration, AWS last year created the Mainframe Competency, which also houses the Mainframe Migration category. The curriculum teaches partners how to take customers through a data-led migration. Partners who earn the competency have proven they have the technology and customer track record for migrating both mainframe applications and data to AWS.

The company announced that certification in December at re:Invent. Not even six months into 2021, AWS has six public case studies on data-led migration.

“Part of the power is that the migrations occur very quickly,” Carter said. Application-led migrations, on the other hand “take more time.”

Already having a half-dozen case studies to share is further impressive because the Migration Competency is the most difficult to earn. It is, Carter said, “the hardest to get. It has very high requirements.”

And yet, even smaller partners can participate. AWS will guide them through the process.

Overall, regardless of partner size, conducting a data-led migration consists of four steps: Planning (the details of which make up part of the Migration Competency); moving data into a data lake; using analytics or visualization on that data to glean new insights; and applying machine learning to the data.

In all of this, “partners are really essential,” Carter said.

So is the push to move data into the cloud, she added.

“We talk about IT value, mission value, business value. Data really opens the door for partners to not just talk about how cool the technology is, but about business outcomes.”

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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