Geoff Mair, CTO, Partnerpedia.

By Geoff Mair

Amazon Web Services (AWS) recently launched the Amazon Marketplace and it’s a remarkable achievement. With Amazon’s heritage being that of an e-commerce company, this organization has built an impressive online one-stop-shop for everything from golf clubs to books to USB car chargers for mobile devices.

The introduction of the AWS Marketplace is also shining a welcome light on the general subject of online marketplaces and app store functionality as key enablers of cloud-based hosted services.

Few will argue that Amazon is a specialist and a market leader in online retailing. But what the Amazon Marketplace has also done is sharpen the focus for technology providers eyeing an online marketplace as a modernly efficient means to provide their product offerings. But here’s the thing: as good as the Amazon Marketplace is, it’s seems like they’ve applied their consumer models directly to the business-to-business (B2B) world and there’s a bit of a disconnect.

On the face of it, Amazon’s platform is a good one to launch a business application via the cloud quickly. That it fundamentally changes the buying motivators for cloud by making cloud all about buying and deploying business apps is a smart move. It broadens the market for AWS services from cloud-savvy IT professionals to include business buyers who want an easy way to deploy a purpose-specific application like CRM (customer relationship management).

Where Amazon’s approach falls short for B2B needs starts with the fact that the AWS Marketplace still very much looks and feels like a consumer’s book-buying website. It doesn’t align well with what business users and purchasers need or expect.

And as an enterprise-buying customer, there’s no real ability to contact the seller of an application or service and discuss the myriad of organizational issues that may rise with said purchase. On the flipside, there’s little opportunity for organizations featuring their wares on the Amazon to reach out to an enterprise buyer and follow up on a potential lead-to-ISV (independent software vendor) opportunity.

Moreover, if you purchase software from the AWS Marketplace and wish to deploy it elsewhere than an Amazon cloud, you’re out of luck. From a customer’s perspective, it’d be far more advantageous to choose the product I want and which cloud I want it deployed into.

And I may be splitting hairs a tad here, but I do think it’s important to note that there’s little support on Amazon for the bundling of solutions and services to be deployed as one pre-configured solution stack.

Props when due however; Amazon has indeed pushed the envelope regarding online marketplaces by having an integrated purchase and deploy process all in one workflow.

By comparison, and for Partnerpedia’s Marketplace solution offering, we’re taking a cloud-agnostic approach by focusing on the ability to allow our customers to deploy and provision apps onto a variety of public cloud platforms. We’re also providing metered billing for the ability to meter the usage of a business application and charge users both for the cloud compute usage as well as the app itself, all-in-one system.

These are defining features for the enterprise that will take the concept of an online marketplace to a higher level of usability and relevance in the B2B world.

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