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What Will Differentiate Rackspace In the Channel?

June 17, 2011

3 Min Read
What Will Differentiate Rackspace In the Channel?

By samdizzy

Rackspace Hosting continues to achieve new business milestones. The cloud provider earlier this year unified its partner program under one umbrella, making it easier for VARs and MSPs to resell Rackspace’s cloud, hosted and managed offerings. Moreover, Rackspace is marching forward with OpenStack — an open source platform that could accelerate standardized cloud deployments worldwide.

But what will ultimately differentiate Rackspace in the channel? An effective partner program? Intellectual property culled from OpenStack? Actually, the answer if far more basic. Rackspace continues to bet its customer and channel business on two words: Fanatical Support.

Rackers — the term for Rackspace employees — are recruited for “attitude and aptitude.” As of October 2010, the company assigned 2,000 of its 3,000 employees to customer support, Rackspace insiders mentioned during a partner conference. Rackspace’s technical know-how runs deep. A prime example: Rackspace is second only to Red Hat in terms of the number of certified Red Hat Enterprise Linux certified pros it employs.

According to Wall Street Cheat Sheet:

“Just how fanatical are the customer service staff at Rackspace? Consider that RAX employees will regularly track clients so intently that they are known to have pizza delivered to them in times of need (long days at the office, stressful changes, etc) and to serenade them via phonelines with “Happy Birthday” melodies on birthdays.”

Built for Growth?

Still, I have to openly wonder: Can Rackspace continue to scale its fanatical support concept as the company continues to grow? In its first quarter, Rackspace’s net revenue grew 28.6 percent to $230.0 million — putting Rackspace on a path toward becoming a $1 billion (annual revenue) company.

During a sit-down meeting with me at Ingram Micro Cloud Summit, Rackspace Channel Chief Robert Fuller didn’t spent much time talking about technology. Most of our conversation involved scaling Fanatical Support, especially as partners like Ingram Micro drive VARs to Rackspace’s front door.

Now, Fuller is taking to the Internet with some deeper views about Fanatical Support. Perhaps even more importantly, Fuller can point to CEO Landham Napier’s commitment to Fanatical Support. During partner conferences and keynote speeches, Napier gives out his personal email and phone number to all attendees.

When Rackspace begins to remove contact information from its web sites, you’ll know that the company’s Fanatical Support model has ended, Napier quipped during a partner conference in 2010.

I’ve experienced Rackspace’s support first-hand. And yes, I’d call it fanatical. It’s almost like an Apple Genius Bar living in the cloud. But can Rackspace really scale that support as thousands of  partners and customers embrace the company’s cloud and managed services? We’ll be listening closely to channel partners for their views.

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