“10 Years of Success” is a blog series celebrating a decade of the AWS Partner Network (APN) through stories of partner transformation, collaboration, and customer success.
By Amanda Mock, Program Manager – AWS Partner Network
By Simone Merlini, CEO and Co-Founder – beSharp
As we continue to celebrate 10 years of the AWS Partner Network (APN), we’re highlighting some of our AWS Partners who have grown with us over the past decade.
Next in our “10 Years of Success” series is beSharp, an AWS Premier Tier Services Partner that helps customers design, implement, and manage complex cloud infrastructures and advanced services on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Since 2012, beSharp’s team of AWS-certified cloud experts have contributed to thousands of cloud projects for prestigious companies all around the world. With AWS Competencies in SaaS, Data and Analytics, DevOps, and Migration, beSharp supports industry leaders, like Kuwait Petroleum Italia, TUI Musement, and Miroglio Group, across different fields—from cloud migrations and cloud-native development to Internet of Things (IoT), big data, and artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) projects.
Customers like Nital S.p.A. value the innovative services and expertise that beSharp provides. Nital is the official distributor of Nikon, iRobot, Polaroid, and other technologically advanced brands in Italy. When the Italian retailer needed faster and more reliable web performance, they turned to beSharp for help.
“Partnering up with beSharp allowed us to turn our IT constraints into an opportunity for growth,” says Alan Girard, IT Manager at Nital. As a result of the collaboration, Nital was able to cut management costs in half and slashed latency times.
Q&A with beSharp
We spoke with Simone Merlini, CEO and Co-Founder at beSharp, about beSharp’s work and accomplishments, as well as how its business has grown as an AWS Partner since joining the APN in 2012.
AWS: What made you decide to become an AWS Partner back in 2012?
Simone Merlini: In 2012, beSharp was a one-year-old company; although our use of AWS goes back to 2007, when we were part of the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) public beta launch.
Back then, it was already clear to us the cloud would be our core business, and during the first years of activities we decided to refine our focus. At this point, AWS was already a leading cloud services provider; it became part of our day-to-day job and a deeper connection started to grow.
For this reason, joining the APN was not a mere strategic decision. Once the APN was launched, joining was the most natural choice. We were already part of the AWS community, even if it was composed of a small group of pioneers like ourselves.
AWS: Ten years is a long time in the tech world. What changes have you seen in your customers and/or in your industry during that time?
Simone: Everything has changed—everything! As a consulting company, we’ve worked with clients across all industries. Initially, the cloud was only for pioneers, geeks, and visionaries; a niche technology spreading in a very wary market. It took years for companies to trust the cloud and understand its value, but today it is the new normal and the number of cloud enthusiasts continues to grow.
In the beginning, the cloud was the primary choice mainly for tech startups or enterprises with a particularly innovative soul. As time went on, more and more legacy companies started using the cloud, not only as a cheaper and easier alternative to on-premises data centers, but as an enabler for new business models and modernization.
While the tech world has evolved in the past 10 years, our vision is still the same as it was on day one—a 100% focus on AWS Cloud. Working with AWS resulted in the winning choice for both us and our happy customers.
AWS: What transformation and growth has your business gone through in the last 10 years?
Simone: When we joined the APN, we were a company of two people. Since then, beSharp has evolved and grown significantly, both in size (60 people today) and scope.
Our quality-first approach has always pursued healthy growth, favoring skills and competency development over revenue. This allows us to keep the highest standards possible for our colleagues and customers.
We aim to help companies unlock new business potential and take advantage of the cloud to achieve results that are impossible with legacy technologies. The challenge here has been selecting suitable projects to accomplish these results. In other words, we are careful to choose projects with a high level of innovation and disruption, where the cloud could really be a game changer.
Being part of the APN helped us maintain our competitive advantage in challenging markets and building trust with customers, which is key to starting and fostering long-term collaboration.
AWS: What are some challenges you’ve had to overcome, and how did you evolve and adapt to resolve them?
Simone: In 2012, one of the biggest challenge was explaining the disruptive model of cloud computing, and its value. At that time, most companies were not ready to move to the cloud, so starting an evangelization process through different initiatives was key.
As founding members of the AWS user group in Italy, we participated in conferences and community events for knowledge sharing, and started Proud2beCloud, a highly-technical blog focused on AWS-based solutions. We invested in building cloud awareness in Italy, and now, in today’s cloud-first market, it is paying back.
As more companies move to the cloud, our goal is to shift their mindset from a cost-based perspective to an innovation-focused one.
We believe the best way to take advantage of the cloud is not by trying to do the same things you do on-premises in a cheaper and more agile way. Instead, the idea is to leverage the cloud to unlock new possibilities of doing things you can’t do with legacy technologies.
AWS: How has partnering with AWS grown or evolved for your business since 2012?
Simone: When we started using AWS in 2007, only a few services were available. In 2012, it grew to approximately 30 services. Today, AWS offers over 200 services. This never-ending evolution allows beSharp to expand the number and type of solutions we can offer our customers. It gives us the opportunity to learn new practices and continuously differentiate our offering.
New services mean new possibilities to design and implement complex infrastructure, to empower businesses across all industries. As a result, this allows us to deliver more end-to-end solutions, ensuring a complete digital transformation and modernization journey for our customers.
Also, when we joined the APN 10 years ago, AWS was overseas with the Italian AWS branch still to come. As we grew with AWS in Italy throughout the years, we established a relationship based on mutual trust, skills, and a common goal to drive the biggest possible value for customers.
AWS: What APN resources or programs have you leveraged most effectively to build and differentiate your business?
Simone: As our positioning and strategy are 100% AWS-based, every APN achievement drives value for our business. AWS Competencies, AWS Certifications, and AWS Service Delivery designations, including AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon DynamoDB, have been crucial and given us the opportunity to improve our expertise and differentiate our offering.
Today, our team is made up of more than 100 AWS-certified employees. We have many achievements covering different topics—from DevOps and SaaS to migration and serverless—with more in the pipeline. This reflects our commitment to continuous improvement.
Additionally, we have been invited to some AWS pilot programs as a trusted and skilled partner able to anticipate and meet strategic market needs through innovative, valuable solutions for customers. For example, we were particularly proud to be included in the AWS Well-Architected Framework pilot in 2018 with only 30 other partners worldwide. This opportunity consolidated and validated a best practice we already applied to all of our projects. The principles outlined in the AWS Well-Architected Framework are the core of every successful cloud project.
AWS: Tell us about your experience collaborating with other AWS Partners on business solutions for your customers.
Simone: As we have been working in the cloud from the very beginning, we had the opportunity to work with many other partners. The collaboration has always been smooth and seamless. In the past few years, we’ve built a toolbox to handle any possible use case, both internally and for our customers. Some of our must-have tools are provided by other AWS Partners.
For example, since the majority of our projects involve advanced hybrid networking and centralized monitoring, we usually rely respectively on Fortinet and Datadog for the quality of their services and the deep integration they provide with AWS. AMD is also a key partner when it comes to optimizing computational performance and cost for the most resource-hungry AWS workloads.
AWS: In your opinion, what’s the best part about working with AWS or being an AWS Partner?
Simone: I believe the reason we work with AWS so easily is that our vision and company culture are aligned. Like beSharp, AWS is customer-obsessed. Also, we love the community behind the APN. We consider it a genuine network of passionate people who inspire improvement by encouraging each other to raise the bar on innovation.
You simply can’t stop finding the next big thing in such a living environment. As an AWS Partner, you’re constantly pushed to keep the pace, renew yourself, learn, and study to build solutions that help you and your customer make a difference. Most importantly, being part of the APN pushes you to think outside the box.
AWS: What do the next few years look like for your organization with AWS? What are you hoping to achieve for continued growth?
Simone: Now that we have established ourselves as a player of excellence in the Italian market, we plan to scale our services to Europe and worldwide, starting with our 24/7 support.
In a world that moves fast and is always evolving, there is plenty of room for innovation. We’ll continue raising the bar, investing in learning, and certifying our knowledge. This includes achieving new AWS Competencies for the company and new certifications for our colleagues, which will allow us to reach new markets and industries.
Last but not least, we will surely continue the job we started more than 10 years ago: evangelization, not for direct business profit but as a model for innovation. We plan to continuously support and contribute to the AWS user group in Italy to share ideas, best practices, and benefits of the cloud.
AWS: What is your fondest AWS memory or experience?
Simone: Four memories come to mind that I’d like to share about our experience with AWS. The first one is the day we joined the APN. For a newborn two-person company, it was absolutely unbelievable to see our logo on the AWS website!
The second memory relates to our first AWS re:Invent back in 2012. We felt like we were living in a new dimension, part of something bigger than we could’ve imagined. It felt great to be there together with other people from all over the world, sharing the same passion. This experience truly enriched our perception of what the cloud would become.
The third memory takes us back to Dr. Werner Vogel’s keynote at AWS re:Invent 2018, where our logo appeared on the stage as part of the first 30 AWS Well-Architected Pilot partners. Seeing beSharp among the other 29 selected top players worldwide made us feel like we were finally playing in the major leagues.
The fourth and most recent memory is the AWS Premier Tier Services Partner achievement. It closes the loop on our partner designation, but it’s just the starting point of a level-up path on the AWS Cloud. We’re very proud of it!
About the AWS Partner Network
The AWS Partner Network (APN) is a global community of partners that leverage programs, expertise, and resources to build, market, and sell customer offerings. This diverse network features 100,000 partners from more than 150 countries.
Together, partners and AWS can provide innovative solutions, solve technical challenges, win deals, and deliver value to our mutual customers.
Read Jeff Barr’s blog post about the APN’s anniversary: 10 Years and Going Strong!
See other stories in the APN’s “10 Years of Success” blog series.
This content was originally published here.