Dropbox Joins AWS Marketplace, Expects 'Business Outcomes' for Partners

AWS says the original idea for its Marketplace negated the need for the channel, and "that was a mistake."

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

February 2, 2022

4 Min Read

Amazon Web Services (AWS) continues to make its AWS Marketplace more channel-friendly. On Wednesday, the world’s largest public cloud provider said Dropbox has joined the AWS Marketplace, and in ways that stands to benefit partners.

Users now can buy Dropbox (which is built on AWS) content collaboration and HelloSign, the company’s electronic signature capabilities, through AWS Marketplace. Pricing options include testing software before buying, paying along the way, negotiating custom terms and choosing long-term plans. Dropbox also will look to AWS sellers (read: channel partners) for “valuable insights for further business and product development,” the company said.

The emphasis on the indirect channel reflects a broader philosophy within AWS.


AWS’ Chris Grusz

“Channel is a big investment area for us,” Chris Grusz, director of business development at AWS Marketplace. “The original idea for Marketplace was more of an app store model, with providers on one side and customers on the other.”

The arrangement negated the need for the channel.

“That was a mistake,” Grusz said.

To make up for it, AWS Marketplace has spent the last four years launching programs that involve partners. There’s Private Offers as one example, and Professional Services as another. Now, bringing Dropbox into the mix adds opportunity for partners such as managed services providers and resellers.

For instance, Dropbox – which AWS considers an independent software vendor – can authorize the resale of its technology through AWS Marketplace. In that scenario, an MSP can put Dropbox into a collaboration environment and profit from the managed service and the monthly subscription fees. Or, Dropbox can extend a blanket authorization to a channel partner – anyone from a small VAR or reseller to a systems integrator or MSP – and the partner can make as many private offers as desired within the window of margin. Another option? Say a partner doesn’t yet work with Dropbox and neither party is ready to sign a blanket authorization. In that case, Dropbox could permit a one-time margin to that partner for a particular customer.


Dropbox’s Deb McClure

“We’re hoping to help this partner network increase the business outcomes they can bring to their customers,” said Deb McClure, Dropbox’s vice president of sales for the Americas.

‘Move Quicker’

That’s great. But customers can buy Dropbox services directly. So why would they purchase through AWS?

Grusz has a ready answer: Benefits.

“When they go to Marketplace, they’re putting that spend on the AWS bill,” he said. “These are customers that already have budgets assigned to AWS. It’s an ease-of-use factor and they can move quicker as a result.”

McClure agreed.

“Customers want to simplify the procurement experience and life cycle and workflows,” she said. “They want to have things succinct and simple.”

Selling Dropbox through AWS Marketplace also should help channel partners close deals faster, Grusz said. Plus, there’s integration with governance and management tools.

“Our customers are trying to consolidate the purchase of all software,” he said. “Marketplace is a one-stop shop.”

From that perspective, Dropbox joining the AWS Marketplace almost seems like a no-brainer. And that raises the question of why the two companies haven’t teamed until now. Two key trends seem to be in play. The first, McClure said, has to do with the last two years of pandemic life.

“The remote work transition is just accelerating the need to have multiple channels for routes to market,” she said.

At the same time, Grusz said, “there’s a lot of gravity around marketplaces in general.”

That works to Dropbox’s advantage, McClure said.

“We came out into the market as file sync and share, and we are so much more than that now,” she said. “We’re really elevating our workflow benefits … versus just being one product.”

For now, Dropbox is available in AWS Marketplace only in North America. But expect that to change throughout 2022.

“Our channel strategy is a large bet for us globally, so we’re looking to expand this partnership in a global fashion,” McClure said.

Grusz concurred.

“Channel partners are a big part of our future. They’re integral for our expansion domestically as well as internationally,” he said.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Kelly Teal or connect with her on LinkedIn.


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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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