Rackspace's new partner program aims to give more access to the company's managed IT services.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

April 17, 2018

7 Min Read


Edward Gately

**Editor’s Note: Click here for our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.**

CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — A new partner program that represents an evolution in Rackspace‘s channel strategy will be a hot topic for the company’s channel chief and other reps when speaking with partners at this week’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

Rackspace has rolled out a new partner program that represents an evolution in the company’s channel strategy and has “partners’ fingerprints” all over it.

Lisa McLin, Rackspace’s channel sales and alliances vice president for North America, says the new program has “partners’ fingerprints” all over it. It’s designed to provide partners with better visibility and access into Rackspace’s portfolio of managed IT services across private and public clouds, application services, managed hosting, colocation and managed security.

Rackspace’s approach to the channel offers partners access to self-service and dedicated, customized program models to help meet their needs and the needs of their customers, the company said. Partners can take advantage of new features, including a strategic partner agreement, strengthened partner enablement and an enhanced portal.

Last November, Rackspace completed its acquisition of Datapipe, a MSP for public, private and hybrid cloud platforms — and competitor. Datapipe has 29 data centers in nine countries.


Rackspace’s Lisa McLin

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, McLin talks about her company’s new commitment to the channel and what partners can expect from the new program.

Channel Partners: How is the new program different from the previous program?

Lisa McLin: In the past, we had lots of partners and we didn’t go very deep with these partners; it was very much referral-commission, referral-commission, and we’ve now created a structured program, a program that will support partners who want to do business with Rackspace, but not get strategic. So maybe just referrals throughout the year.

We’ve also made the conscious decision of saying we only want a few partners, and we want partners who want to help their clients in this digital transformation, and they want a strong partner to help do that. So in the future you’ll see that we’re really going to focus on anywhere from 30-50 partners. That’s so we can go deep with those partners and get true enablement together, work with their customers to make sure that we are representing both companies in a fanatical manner in actually solving that digital-transformation need that most companies out there have today and are going through. And then you’ll also see a strategic agreement out there that’s a strong [one] for the partner and customers so that we do business together, and we actually lead with each other. That’s probably one of the big differences.

Through the Datapipe acquisition, we did have a channel program that had an agreement, and then Rackspace had a few agreements out in the market. Now that we’ve created one program, we have …

… one strategic agreement that’s available for partners to sign up to be a partner with Rackspace.

CP: What drove the need for the new program?

LM: In the future when you look at technology as a service, that is actually going to take the company plus their channel partners to actually go out and win together. So what the channel brings that we just didn’t take advantage of in previous years is those deep, long-term relationships with customers. These are partners that have been servicing these customer bases and now those customers are asking for guidance on this digital transformation, and we think there’s a prime opportunity for Rackspace to be that MSP for these partners to leverage to make that digital transformation. And it’s just something that, with our new leadership team – and we have executive leaders who have come from other companies that had a strong channel arm – this is just the right opportunity, and the way for Rackspace to grow in the midmarket and enterprise segments.

CP: Did partner feedback play a role in the formulation of the new program?

LM: Absolutely. Last year we had a partner advisory council, and when I joined in July, within four weeks I was in front of them. And I met with a lot of them at Channel Partners Evolution last fall and took feedback. And then last week we had the 2018 partner advisory council here, reviewed the agreement with them and reviewed the program, and they made the comment of, “Wow, you guys listened to what we have to say.” So partners’ fingerprints are all over this new program.

CP: Does the new program eliminate barriers partners have been facing?

LM: Some of the big barriers were how they were communicating with Rackspace. We do have a brand-new partner portal that allows them to communicate with us in a much easier manner. That portal is also a custom dashboard for the partner so they understand how their business is doing at Rackspace, what their customers are doing with Rackspace, and then [the] products and portfolio they should be selling here with Rackspace. So that’s one way of Rackspace making it easier to do business. Another way is our enablement strategy. So they will have technical field resources for a specific partner training on portfolio, and they’ll have joint marketing events as well to help enable their customers and their team. And they will also have the ability to create joint slides that can be placed into their overall pitch deck so whenever they are talking to their customers, they understand and they have a portion of Rackspace embedded in their overall message. So [those are] just a few things that we will have on the enablement side to make it easier to do business with Rackspace.

CP: What does the ultimate Rackspace partner look like, one you are most wanting to work with?

LM: The ultimate partner is someone who wants one strong MSP partner who has …

… a private-cloud transformation story, a public-cloud offering, as well as security and application services. We really are one of the few partners out there who the partner can come to and say, “OK, my client needs a third-party cloud, I have a partner who can do that. If my client needs a private cloud, I have a partner who can do that. If my client needs managed colocation of some sort or security, or application services, I have a partner that can do that.” And it’s a much better experience versus having to manage multiple partners for your customer. And I think partners who are looking for that strong MSP out there to go and lead the conversation (are) really the ones who will get the best advantage and opportunity out of this program. It really is designed for partners who want to lead with Rackspace.

CP: Does the new program represent a change or evolution in Rackspace’s overall channel strategy?

LM: We’ve always been a company [that] cares about the customer and how we serve the customer, and I think the evolution we’re making is it’s not just a customer, it’s the partner as well. So moving forward it’s really caring about, day one, having the partnership conversation, working with the customer together and then partnering to support the customer [going forward] here at Rackspace. And that is an evolution. To bring the “fanatical experience” forward to make sure we are looking at this program from the lens of a partner is something that we’ll continue to push forward in making sure that we create a program that partners actually want to be a part of.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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