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There’s a lot of news to cover. Let’s get to it.

First Up: #pwcfail meet #awsoutage
For two whole days, it didn’t seem like anything could top the flub at the 89th Academy Awards. But the confusion at the Oscars may have found its match in the outage in the cloud. VentureBeat reports Airbnb, Business Insider, Docker, Expedia, News Corp, Pinterest and Slack were among the many impacted by the outage at AWS on Tuesday. Our own Nicole Henderson, editor-in-chief (EiC) at Talkin’ Cloud, put together a terrific story that explains the entire mess and what people had to say about on Twitter and beyond.

“Many on Twitter were quick to gloat about the availability of their own cloud offerings or web hosting services, but others were a bit more forgiving,” writes Henderson, who linked to an equally compelling story penned by our own Yevgeniy Sverdlik, EiC at Data Center Knowledge. His story is entitled, “No Shortage of Twitter Snark as AWS Outage Disrupts the Internet.”

Next up: Independence IT Upgrades Cloud Workspace Platform
Also on Tuesday, Feb. 28, IndependenceIT unveiled Cloud Workspace Suite version 5.1, an upgrade to the integrated automation software platform that was last updated at the end of 2016.

This time around, IndependenceIT has added support for Windows 2016 Session Server, full stack support for Microsoft Azure Resource Manager, support for Office 365 single authentication, Hypervisor/Cloud Direct template management and administrator defined automation.

That’s a lot of stuff from the company that has been working hard to establish itself at the forefront of cloud application and data management solutions for IT administrators. Last September, IndependenceIT announced the general availability of the company’s “App Services Delivery Platform” and the launch of a new channel program for ISVs, MSPs and other organizations interested in leveraging the company’s technology to deploy app services.

As mentioned, the company announced Cloud Workspace Suite  5.0 last year with a bevvy of improvements including improved API support and a new user interface. This was followed by news in December that sales of Cloud Workspace Suite rose 70 percent from 2015 to 2016. For insights on the latest upgrade from the company, I turned to IndependenceIT CEO Seth Bostock and CTO and Co-Founder Chip Buck.

Seth Bostock, IndependenceIT

Bostock said the latest upgrades are all about helping business partners better manage customers and get paid quicker. The duo also shared some thoughts on the success of their APIs, which were changed from SOAP-based to REST-based when the company upgraded the workspace suite from version 4.x to version 5.x.

To date the company has attracted “a fair amount of developers from the channel but not enough.”

When IndependenceIT first developed its workspace platform, it figured most partners would leverage the API and build their own products. That didn’t happen as planned so IndependenceIT would up building a common interface so third-parties wouldn’t have to. That said, the company’s original vision is now coming together as more channel companies step up their development efforts.

“Consuming an API to extend a product or service or create your own from scratch is a complicated process that requires planning and desire, and the ability to execute. Not every partner, obviously, has that capability,” says Buck.

The fastest growing part of its channel, Bostock says, is the number of those moving their workloads into the cloud so they can expand their geographic reach. This includes companies both large and small. As they do, the can jump into new vertical markets and expand into areas like intellectual property development.

What else? How about some more awards?
No I’m not talking about the Oscars, but some IT consultants and service providers instead.

On Tuesday, for example, Insight announced that it had been named “Corporate Reseller of the Year” by Veeam Software. Insight was also recognized in February by Gartner in the “Magic Quadrant for Managed Workplace Services, North America.”

Speaking of top IT companies, the Everest Group announced the winners of its “2017 IT Service Provider of the Year Awards” in mid-February. The awards leverage the “PEAK Matrix Reports” produced by the Dallas-based research and consulting company. As it has done previously, Everest Group identifies what it considers to be the Top 20 global IT services company.

This year, the No. 1 company is Accenture, which bumped last year’s top performer, Cognizant, down to No. 2. In addition to Accenture, four other companies improved their PEAK matrix rankings: Atos (from No. 15 to No. 10), Capgemini (9 to 7), CSC (10 to 8) and VirtusaPolaris (16 to 15).

If you’re into big IT services, it’s definitely worth a look.

Lastly: A thought on the ever-expanding role of a world-class channel chief
In January, I teamed with Impartner to write an ebook entitled the “9 Attributes of a World-Class Channel Chief.” In the book, I identified “organizational influence” as one of the top traits.

Which brings me to Bill Corbin, senior vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Channel Operations at CenturyLink. Corbin is joining the Penton Technology Think Tank, which you’ll be hearing a lot more about this Spring. But the reason I mention him today is the scope and influence of his role.

If you’re not familiar with him, Corbin helped build the Weston channel into a $6 billion powerhouse. To help CenturyLink grow its business through partners, he’s taking a holistic view of partnering. This includes amassing authority over everything CenturyLink does when it comes to partners. This includes go-to-market channels, development partners and alliances.

Bill Corbin, SVP, CenturyLink

Whether you’re a single agent offering the company’s cloud services, a software development house building apps to run on the CenturyLink network, or even a tier one vendor like Cisco that aligns with the company, you’re likely to encounter Corbin and his strategy.

There aren’t many in the industry with such a wide purview. (VMware Senior Vice President Ross Brown is another example.) But my gut says the number of execs who are given total ownership of partnering will grow as more organizations see the value of coordinating activities of their entire ecosystems of partners.