July 17, 2017
RACKSPACE SOLVE — Churn at the executive level at Rackspace – including the appointment, earlier this month, of Lisa McLin as channel sales and alliances vice president for North America – isn’t the only change taking place at the hosting and managed cloud company. Rackspace on Monday held its first-ever Partner Day at Rackspace Solve, in New York City, expanding beyond what’s traditionally been an event for customers and their partners.
Think of this change as “Fanatical Channel,” the company’s new embrace of its channel.
Rackspace’s Lisa McLin
“The channel is an important part of our business and an important part of our strategy. We’re all transforming together so this is the perfect opportunity to invest in our partners, deliver that Fanatical Channel that our partner advisory council has talked to us about,” McLin shared with us. “Everything Rackspace does, we talk about how we’re a services company first — but we need to show that to our channel team,” she added.
The Rackspace channel is diverse – master agents, subagents, ISVs and systems integrators – although the vendor tended to look at this ecosystem as a generic pool of partners. Not anymore.
Recognizing that each partner type has its own special needs, Rackspace is ready and willing to invest in those specific needs.
“What’s changing now is that we realize that we can’t treat all partners the same,” McLin said.
McLin, who took the reins earlier this month from former CenturyLink channel chief Blake Wetzel, who left Rackspace after just a year, shared her mission for Fanatical Channel: Create it and implement it for partners in order to create a win-win-win strategy — a win for partners, their customers and Rackspace.
The next item in view for McLin is enablement, or how to get partners comfortable speaking about the Rackspace portfolio. The new North America channel chief also is focused on how to go to market with partners by offering product bundles. Finally, as Rackspace evolves, it wants to get further up the stack to the application and spread the expertise it has – its “Fanatical Support” – by leveraging partners. (Rackspace’s recent acquisition of TriCore added applications to its cloud management portfolio. At Rackspace Solve Partner Day, company executives talked about the company’s newest value-add, Rackspace enterprise application services.)
Execution is key in order for Rackspace to show its partners that it means business. McLin has a road map.
For starters, the vendor is working with third-party consultants to align its new strategy with what partners want and need from Rackspace, in addition to working closely with its partner advisory council and talking to customers to learn about what they need from a Rackspace partner.
In the third quarter, the company will map out …
…the new partner strategy while also going after low-hanging fruit, or leveraging the Rackspace customer experience center with partners to help them transform in their cloud journey. The Rackspace customer experience center is at the company’s headquarters in San Antonio.
The fourth quarter will focus on implementation and will lay out a foundation for a successful 2018.
Last week at Microsoft Inspire, Rackspace announced the availability of Fanatical Support for Microsoft’s Azure Stack, a hybrid cloud solution. The company also announced availability of a single node of the Azure Stack Development Kit, which customers can leverage to do proof of concept. Rackspace will offer 24x7x365 operational support and expertise for Azure Stack.
Azure Stack was a focal point for partners at Monday’s event. Rackspace also held sessions on public and private cloud, marketing and operations for partners, enterprise application services and security. Forrester analyst Jay McBain, principal analyst, global channels, talked about how the channel is adapting to the changing customer buying journey.
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