The AWS Marketplace has grown extensively over the years, and it has a significant impact on how we buy solutions in the cloud. This is one of the many reasons that we’ve been talking about making Fairwinds Insights available in AWS Marketplace for years. Moving to cloud native offers organizations many business benefits, but without some type of Kubernetes container management in place, realizing those benefits can be a slow process. We recently launched in AWS Marketplace, making it easier for customers to get started with Fairwinds Insights. In this post, I’ll share our experience getting onto AWS Marketplace and provide some tips for other companies that are considering doing the same based on my experience.
AWS Marketplace is broadly available — most organizations are already using AWS Marketplace for something. If you look at the search page, there are over 10,000 results available if you don’t refine your search at all. Being available on this marketplace gives us access to a broad base of consumers whose eyes wouldn’t otherwise be on our solution.
One of the reasons it took us some time to add Fairwinds Insights to AWS Marketplace was because we’re a lean startup, and we’d heard that it would take a lot of time to get us there. Some people on the team thought it was a huge project, that you had to hire a firm to set up an AWS Marketplace integration. From what we understood, it would cost $40,000 to set up the integration, in addition to an annual fee to maintain it. We didn’t have the time or budget for this type of long, expensive project. It didn’t sound very promising, but we decided to do a little research.
Despite reports that it was really too hard to do in-house, we decided to try it. What could it hurt? If I spent an hour or so trying to set it up, what was the worst that could happen? The first thing I learned was that the documentation was not great, and the user interface wasn’t always intuitive.
It wasn’t a walk in the park, but I figured it out. A colleague shared that they’d somehow gotten their AWS Partner Manager to invite them to a bootcamp, and got the whole thing done in one day! It took a little while for us to get hooked up with our partner manager and in the interim, we just sort of hacked at it. We failed more than once — but we didn’t give up. We did eventually get to chat with someone at AWS who gave us some tips… and after a good amount of trial and error and a lot of elbow grease, Fairwinds Insights was live in AWS Marketplace!
First, we needed to set up the listing and the financial pieces behind it. You can use your own end user license agreement (EULA) or theirs, but you need to have one in place. Next, you set up pricing, which we did starting with a placeholder amount of $100k, because we didn’t want anyone to accidentally click it and charge it to their credit card. Next we got our tax information added, and that’s when I realized we’d made a major error… we’d started this whole process in the wrong AWS account.
After some back and forth with AWS’s support, we stood up a new account, dis-associated our tax ID from the old one (because you can’t have two marketplace accounts with the same ID) and we were back in business.
We needed to set up a hook, because a critical piece of being in the marketplace is the customer’s ability to auto-provision your tool. That took a little more time than we hoped, and Robert (Fairwinds’ VP of Product Development) was extremely patient with the hurry-up-and-wait situation. After over two weeks of back and forth… we were finally able to test.
Then, we hit a roadblock. Nothing was happening. It seemed like we needed approval to take the next step — but we couldn’t figure out where or who to ask.
Robert and I got on the phone with our AWS rep, and he explained that I had never replied to an email asking me to activate my AWS Marketplace listing. In all my efforts trying to figure out what the next step was, I hadn’t seen anything referencing a specific email. He had me search my email for our ID/Case number… and when I pulled it up, I found a generic looking email from AWS saying I had taken step X. It didn’t say HOW to take the next step. I’d gotten a lot of emails during this process, and nothing about that one indicated its importance.
It turns out, this email is the key — it goes to the person (a single human who is assigned to your account) who gets you activated! Once I replied to the email and confirmed activation, it only took three hours before our AWS Marketplace listing was activated (but not yet live, we needed to do more testing first).
Now we could test everything again, making sure that the flow of actually purchasing Fairwinds Insights from AWS Marketplace worked. One important thing to know: AWS doesn’t allow you to cancel any orders, even as a buyer and seller. The only way to cancel an order is to write to their customer support, tell them that you need it canceled, and state that you asked the customer and they also wanted to cancel it.
We tested making a custom offer, accepting it, then canceling it a bunch of times to make sure everything was working as desired. So we were done, ready to make our listing live on AWS Marketplace! A little confusing, but definitely not months of effort or a $40k investment.
I talked about this a little bit at the beginning, but I wanted to share more about why this new listing makes sense for meeting our customers’ needs. Often, organizations have committed spend with a cloud vendor, such as AWS, but don’t have a line of sight to spend it all by the contract end date. Using that committed spend, it becomes easier for platform engineering teams using AWS to add Fairwinds Insights to their Kubernetes stack to make their cloud native environment cost-effective, compliant, and secure. Purchasing Insights via AWS Marketplace reduces friction in the purchasing and implementation process for our customers.
This new offering is our first version, our MVP. It allows our customers to use their credits to buy Insights easily. In the future, we may make Insights available as a 1-click purchase, but that’s a version later down the road. Our current implementation enables our sales team to create a custom offer to execute through the marketplace. This reduces friction from a finance perspective, because the teams are using committed spend to make the purchase, which gives them more flexibility about which platforms and solutions they want in place.
Getting your software listed on AWS Marketplace is a decent amount of work, and includes a number of hurdles… but it’s not hard, and if you’re up for rolling up your sleeves, it’s definitely a doable Q4 goal.