Amazon Web Services: Rackspace's OpenStack low on customers' radar

Rackspace has raised a ruckus about trying to post retail customers from AWS and its OpenStack cloud OS. AWS says OpenStack isn't surfacing much in customer talks and is confident it will fare well vs. Rackspace.

Amazon Web Services isn't seeing much customer interest in OpenStack, a cloud platform championed by rival Rackspace, and remains confident that it can keep retail customers happy.


In an interview with Adam Selipsky, vice president of product marketing, sales, and product management at AWS, I asked about his take on OpenStack. Rackspace has pushed OpenStack and has multiple partners lined up to build a cloud counterweight to AWS.

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Meanwhile, Rackspace is gunning to poach a few AWS customers. Earlier this month, Rackspace CEO Lanham Napier said his company was having conversations with AWS retail customers . Napier argued there was an obvious conflict with retailers hosting infrastructure on Amazon.

Napier said:

We need to make sure that the CEO of every retail business that uses AWS knows they don't have to continue funding their biggest competitor. We need to make sure the world knows the Rackspace Cloud is here. It's ready and it's open for big applications.

Napier also said AWS was proprietary and OpenStack would be a differentiator.

Selipsky responded to those comments. Regarding OpenStack, Selipsky said AWS was focused on customers and delivery not statements or positions of rivals. He added:

We don't devote a lot of time thinking about OpenStack. It doesn't come up with customers. It comes up in interviews. Among the customer issues, OpenStack is not in the top 10. Standards will be important in this industry, but it's so early. Customers are interested in innovation and capabilities.

Selipsky also countered Rackspace's open standards rap. He noted that AWS is open and customers can import and export virtual machines and data freely. Customers aren't locked in. He also noted that AWS also has strong support, which counters Rackspace's marketing pitch that revolves around customer service. "A lot of companies make a lot of claims and market around support. Our support offerings are equal to or superior," he said.

As for Rackspace poaching retailers, Selipsky said AWS is confident it can keep customers happy. He noted that Best Buy uses AWS as do other e-commerce companies. Netflix, which competes with Amazon on video, is building its entire infrastructure on AWS.

This co-opetition is "not uncommon at all," said Selipsky. Ultimately retailers or any other customer base will stick with AWS if it delivers strong performance, a good pace of innovation, value and good customer support. If AWS didn't operate independently customers wouldn't use its services, he added. "The only way to build a healthy large cash flow generating business is to focus on servicing customers," he said. "We and customers are comfortable with the long-term state of affairs."