During Rackspace's third quarter, the company had a bevy of high-level conversations with technology executives about OpenStack, an open source cloud operating system. Rackspace CEO Lanham Napier noted the fourth quarter turned many of those OpenStack conversations into pilots.
Meanwhile, Napier appears to have landed that big retail account Rackspace was aiming for as Staples started pilots with the hosting and cloud services provider.
Recall that Rackspace made a big fuss three months ago about wooing retailers away from Amazon Web Services, the leader in public cloud infrastructure. On Rackspace's fourth quarter earnings conference call, Napier noted Staples is using Open Cloud to deploy its Cloud Database and Cloud Block Storage. "We are getting pilot projects with enterprise customers and these projects come before revenue," said Napier, speaking after Rackspace's fourth quarter earnings report.
In other words, Rackspace appears to be solidifying its role as a counterweight to AWS---assuming pilots turn into revenue. Napier tried to paint AWS and VMware with the same brush---two companies who jumped on cloud infrastructure early but have proprietary infrastructure.
Napier's key points on the call:
Most of Rackspace's cloud growth is on its new Open Cloud platform.
"In prior calls we discussed that we were having conversations with CIOs and enterprises about the open cloud. I think what I'd say this time is that those conversations have progressed into pilots," said Napier. "We have -- the vast majority of the conversations that we referenced in prior calls have turned into pilot projects with us."
Those pilots revolve around writing to Rackspace's APIs and optimizing performance. Rackspace plans to land more references and grow from there.
"The old lock-in model of proprietary technology and expensive enterprise license agreements is waning. People are looking for a new model with respect to building out their technology to introduce a real new capability inside of their companies. I like our chances in this. We're still learning and we got a lot to do. We can see the opportunity ahead," said Napier.
Rackspace positioned 2012 as an investment year that revolved around Open Stack. In 2013, the company plans to invest more to grow its infrastructure.