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Five surprising things you can do with the AWS Marketplace

Mark Nunnikhoven
Mark Nunnikhoven

The AWS Marketplace launched way back in 2012. At the time it provide a simple way for a number of vendors to simplify the use of Amazon Machine Images that you could launch via Amazon EC2.

Over time, more and more vendors started to offer either commercial software or managed open source products. And for the longest time, this was what most often came to mind when someone mentioned the AWS Marketplace:

“That’s where you get managed AMIs.”

But, as is AWS tradition, the Marketplace evolved and continued to deliver feature after feature. As a part of developing my latest course here for A Cloud Guru, “Introduction to the AWS Marketplace”, here are five things that I learned about the AWS Marketplace of 2021…

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1. Buy Fully-Developed Machine Learning Models

One of the many product types offered on the AWS Marketplace is pre-trained machine learning models. That’s right, you can buy a fully developed ML model to use with Amazon SageMaker!

These models have been scanned for security issues and are deployed in network isolation mode so that you know your processing is secure and your data is always under your control.

Models can be regularly updated from the provider so that you’ll always be able to take advantage of the latest learning. Combined with the flexible billing models, the offers in this category are a fantastic way to jumpstart your ML work.

2. Get Datasets Aplenty

Did you ever need access to a really large dataset but weren’t sure where to get it? Did you think, “Hey, that might be on the AWS Marketplace?”

Probably not, but you should.

The AWS Data Exchange provides a unique lens into the AWS Marketplace “Data Products” category. There are over three thousand datasets currently listed.

This ranges from health care data to financial information to gaming data and more. Some data is free of charge while others offer a subscription model.

Once you subscribe, that data can be delivered to Amazon S3, which means you can easily use all of the excellent AWS data tools to process and visualize the data.

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3. Negotiate a Private Offer

Every product in the AWS Marketplace clearly indicates its pricing model and current cost.

For products where you need to deploy AWS infrastructure (like an Amazon EC2 instance), you also get a quick AWS cost calculator so you know the total charges that you’re looking at.

But what if you didn’t want to pay the list price?

For high volume purchases or situations where you have unique needs, the AWS Marketplace has a feature called “Private Offer.”

This allows you to negotiate custom terms with the vendor that could cover the volume of licenses, pricing, contact length, and more. The vendor then sends you a custom contract link that allows you to purchase the publicly listed item with your private terms.

Private Offers provide a simplified workflow for what’s usually a really frustrating process. If you’ve ever had to deal with corporate purchasing, you know what I’m talking about.

If you’ve never done that, count yourself lucky. The Private Offers mean you probably won’t ever have to!

4. Buy SaaS subscriptions

I’ve always associated the AWS Marketplace with items that need to run in my AWS account. It’s a place that I can get software to deploy into my AWS environment.

Offers in the SaaS category break that perception. Any SaaS that builds the onboarding integration can be listed in the AWS Marketplace.

Why would you want to buy a SaaS via the AWS Marketplace?

The primary reason is that it will show up on your AWS bill like any native AWS service does. For some organizations, this is the only way they can procure these types of solutions without jumping through an absurd amount of hoops.

Options are nice to have!

The AWS Marketplace makes it easy to find, buy, and deploy solutions for the AWS cloud. ACG offers a course that breaks down the more complicated aspects of the AWS Marketplace deep security as a service to help make smart decisions when procuring cloud solutions.

5. Use license grants

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the AWS Marketplace also has three low level objects to work with. The subscription linking your account to a product (free or paid), the license to use that product, and a grant to use the license.

That last idea might seem a little odd. Why would you need a grant for the license? …besides, you know, legal “stuff.”

Well, in an AWS Organization structure, the account that is paying for the license isn’t always—in fact, is rarely—the account that needs to use it.

The idea of a grant allows you a nice balance of visibility in availability (here’s everything we’re paying for) and usage (who’s using what?).

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What’s Next?

The AWS Marketplace has grown by leaps and bounds. That applies to both the features of the service and the scale of the product catalog.

While a lot of people overlook the Marketplace, whether you recognize it or not, it’s had a massive impact on how we buy solutions in the cloud.

Vendors are switching their billing models to monthly subscriptions or consumption-based pricing enabled by the Marketplace and driven by the demand of its users.

This is so much easier for organizations as they are no longer locked into multi-year contracts for software and services they might be using.

If you want to learn more about the features and functionality in the AWS Marketplace, why not try my new course?

It’s available with a free membership, so there’s no excuse! Get started today with Introduction to the AWS Marketplace here on A Cloud Guru.


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