AWS Marketplace limps along

It’s not easy getting a new online marketplace off the ground. It turns out even Amazon Web Services appears to be finding it slow going.

The AWS Marketplace, which launched in April, is a place to rent SaaS apps by the hour on the Amazon cloud. AWS evangelist Jeff Barr recently blogged about the traction the marketplace is getting. But consistent with everything AWS does, he did not say how much business the marketplace is actually doing.

Instead the emphasis was on the growth of ISVs joining the marketplace and the number of products available – about 277 in the catalog at the time of Barr’s post. For the size of Amazon’s infrastructure cloud business, that’s not a particularly impressive number. Consider the Microsoft platform and the thousands upon thousands of apps out there that support it. That tells us the potential scale of the AWS marketplace, or any cloud application marketplace for that matter. There’s a long way to go.

The challenge for ISVs is that every Infrastructure as a Service provider and their dog is launching an apps marketplace. So there are too many targets and no standards which means porting your application to every new marketplace is a lot of work for potentially very little reward. The AWS marketplace has traction, but it’s not clear that people using the Amazon IaaS cloud will necessarily use it for apps too.

Furthermore, Amazon wants to keep control of the customer experience and restricts what ISVs can and can’t do in terms of working with customers that buy through the Amazon cloud. ISVs say there is very little visibility into what their customers are doing or where they came from and Amazon has strict rules around communications and marketing to those customers. For example, ISVs might want to market to customers on the AWS cloud differently than they would on another cloud provider’s platform. There’s perhaps more to the relationship between a buyer and seller of software than the online bookseller is used to?

I suspect Amazon will get there in the end, because of the shear volume of users on its cloud today. But there are a lot of kinks to work out. On a positive note, it looks like ISVs are starting to get the cloud shift and are moving their apps in that direction, albeit slowly. Let the great migration begin.

Question of the week

What’s up with the AWS marketplace?
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