September 5, 2019
By Kevin Casey
Leading a successful partner program requires 20-20 vision of the big picture — and corresponding ability to adapt to sea changes in the industry when they appear on the horizon.
Consider the transformative impacts of cloud on suppliers, partners, and customers alike. Cloud didn’t bring about a one-off change to IT strategies and the partner business models that support those strategies; rather, it ushered in ongoing evolution, particularly as hybrid cloud and multicloud approaches become the norm.
Rackspace’s Lisa McLin
In our latest Top Gun 51 profile, we turn the spotlight on Rackspace channel chief Lisa McLin, who leads a growing partner program that’s focused on enabling partners to seize the growing opportunities that arise out of customers’ cloud transformations. Read on to hear from McLin why partners play an outsized role in helping customers execute on their cloud strategies and other insights.
Channel Partners: Take us through some of Rackspace’s highlights of 2019 so far from a channel perspective. What stands out?
Lisa McLin: Rackspace’s channel partner program is experiencing approximately 10 percent quarter-over-quarter growth. This clearly highlights our transformation and focus in creating a fanatical partner experience. We’ve boosted the number of partner account managers across the U.S. and added an enterprise account team. These additions allow Rackspace to be more proactive and closer to our partners’ prospects and customers. Our channel has also added new commissionable products, such as managed VMWare Cloud on AWS and Rackspace professional services.
Lastly, our new enablement resources to help partners serve customers is an outstanding highlight, such as our All Clouds Guide app, which allows partners to learn, sell, share recommendations and track cloud projects with their clients. We’re always looking to expand the channel, and this app serves all partners, including the new generation of partner agents.
We recently unveiled our “Top Gun 51,” a list of today’s channel executives who deserve recognition for building and executing programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success.
CP: Can you share some thoughts on the role partners play in hybrid cloud success? It seems, for example, that many customers – especially those just now moving from entirely on-premises infrastructure – struggle with their road maps, implementation and long-term optimization. Where do partners fit into this from Rackspace’s perspective?
LM: Partners are actually leading this hybrid cloud success because customers are looking to them for guidance. Through their long-term relationships, customers are turning to partners to understand how to start, where to go and, lastly, how to optimize their hybrid cloud strategy. Partners are the glue to execution, and working with Rackspace supports our partners’ hybrid cloud success leveraging our entire portfolio, starting with a professional services for cloud assessment. Additional portfolio resources include application rationalization to understand which app fits best on a private cloud or public cloud platform, as well as the ongoing manage services and optimization.
Rackspace offers unbiased expertise, allowing partners to serve their customers with the best platform for their specific application.
CP: Can you give an overall “state of the cloud” update from a channel partner perspective?
LM: I have to say, multicloud is still the large focus, along with professional services, container services and cost optimization. Companies leverage multicloud because there is no “one cloud fits all.” This complexity is why customers are leaning on partners. Channel partners have a great opportunity to …
… bring an end-to-end solution that solves for business outcomes, and drive growth to their business and savings for their clients.
CP: What are some of the key macro trends that you’re seeing in the channel?
LM: I am seeing a lot of cloud transformation opportunities and workloads moving away from on-premises to a cloud platform. Customers are looking for expertise and a place to have the entire solution – whether it be software, infrastructure or cloud, security, container services, storage [and so on] – bundled all together with a quick turnaround. It starts with professional services and grows into multiple cloud projects, and partners are leading the way! This is why I see a huge opportunity in creating a fanatical partner ecosystem designed to support Alliance partners and channel partners.
CP: What has been one of the top challenges you’ve faced in the past year or so?
LM: I see things through a window of opportunity — the past year has been all about building a strong foundation for our partner program and strengthening a partner team with Rackspace employees (or as we refer to, Rackers!) who deliver a fanatical partner experience and support growth.
CP: Tell us something else about yourself – anything! – that people might not know.
LM: Professionally, I am someone who likes to solve problems and create new ways of winning as a team. Personally, I want to own a horse farm and rescue a horse. I used to ride as a kid; in fact, my grandfather gave me my first horse when I was two years old.
CP: What’s your favorite part of the channel industry and working with partners?
LM: Working with partners gives me the opportunity to build new strategies, serve in growing their business and support Rackspace in expanding with partners. Partnerships are how companies will scale, create and deliver new products, and how they will successfully execute hybrid cloud for the next big thing. Working in the channel allows me to be part of this cloud technology shift, and to work with incredible partners who share the desire to serve their customers’ multicloud strategy.
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