Rackspace rebrands, aims to be unbiased managed cloud, professional services provider

Rackspace started as a hosting company, played in public cloud, went public and then private and now under CEO Joe Eazor has a more refined mission that's well timed.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Rackspace has a new look, brand focus and plan to be an unbiased managed cloud vendor that can offer professional and services across an enterprise.

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The company, which is now privately held, started as a hosting firm known for customer service, helped launch OpenStack, briefly tried to compete with public cloud giants and then retooled under a series of management changes. Today, Rackspace is looking to be a managed and professional cloud services firm that's unbiased and focused on the customer service that the company is known for. 

Rackspace's timing is pretty good given customers are going multi-cloud, increasingly worried about costs and leveraging multiple vendors for their infrastructure and applications

Without quarterly earnings reports and the hassle that goes with them, Rackspace has been able to refine its focus. The gist of the new logo is meant to highlight that Rackspace is behind the scenes for its customers.

We caught up with Rackspace CEO Joe Eazor, who joined the company in 2017, to talk shop. Here are some of the highlights:

The rebrand. Eazor said that the rebranding of Rackspace is meant to emphasize that "the primary goal is to accelerate the allure of the cloud for our customers." He added that the rebranding effort is part of an effort by Rackspace to be seen as the best equipped service company to meet customers where they are.

And where do those customers sit today on the cloud journey? Eazor said it is clearly a multi-cloud world and Rackspace's role is to help enterprises run their clouds whether it's private or third party. Rackspace already manages all the large cloud providers for customers. "We are adding professional services, but being operators is in our DNA," he said.

Professional services. Eazor said Rackspace's services effort fall into a few buckets. First, Rackspace has teams to help customers understand their suite of applications and develop roadmaps. Some applications are recommended for software as a service, others are hosted and some need to be migrated to the cloud. "We built a plan that optimizes operations," said Eazor.

Another set of services is related to building expertise in implementing and supporting applications from Salesforce, Oracle, SAP and others. "We're focused on the question of how to get value out of them and leverage them," said Eazor. "It is not maintenance driven."

Cloud costs. Rackspace's focus on optimizing cloud deployments is timely given that costs are becoming a bigger issue. "People have been somewhat surprised as they expand services that the cost of cloud is not as cheap as they are expecting," said Eazor. "Some of that is the functionality of the cloud and not everyone understanding the value proposition of what they are doing."

Rackspace's role in the cloud cost equation is to be an unbiased service company aimed at helping customers "find the right destination and right public cloud from a price and performance standpoint.


Managed services. Ultimately, Rackspace has a few creative ways to sell services via "service blocks." These blocks are a way to consume services for a set cost without committing to a full stack of offerings.

Rackspace's evolution. Eazor said Rackspace has almost no co-location hosting services today. When Rackspace was public hosting was a big part of the business. "Cloud applications and managed cloud is the majority of revenue," said Eazor. Where Rackspace stumbled was that it had confused positioning in that it grew up as a hosting company and now is managed cloud. Rackspace also failed to migrate its managed hosting customers in the U.S. to the cloud. In Europe, Rackspace has had much better success keeping customers as they have gone from hosting to public cloud services, said Eazor. "We have recommitted to being that partner for customers," he added.

What's next? With the rebranding out of the way, Rackspace is going to emphasize its role as an unbiased player in recommending cloud plans for customers. The company is also retooling its workforce for its new plan. Last week, Rackspace cut 3 percent of its workforce of 6,600 employees. The company called the job cuts a rebalancing to focus on market needs and noted it has 200 open positions available. 

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