By: Jamie Davies
Rackspace has reported healthy growth for Q1 2016, as the team continues its transition to become managed services provider, leveraging partnerships with AWS and Microsoft Azure.
Revenues for the first quarter were reported at $518 million, a year-on-year growth of 9.9%, while profits grew 77.5%. Although the growth of the business over the last 12 months has been viewed as generally positive, industry commentators highlighted the $24 million gain from the divestiture of Jungle Disk, and what could be perceived as a lacklustre outlook for the rest of 2016 has dampened the news. The exec team expects revenues of between $519 million and $524 million for the second quarter.
“First, we saw a strong demand for our expertise and support on the AWS and Microsoft Clouds and for our OpenStack private cloud offer. Collectively, we now serve more than 400 customers on these platforms and our demand is scaling rapidly,” Taylor Rhodes, President and CEO at Rackspace. “From the October launch of our AWS service through the end of April, we’ve been actively marketing with AWS and have signed 187 customers across every firm size, geography, and vertical.”
The transition to a managed cloud services company began a number of years ago with the launch of Rackspace’s Fanatical Support services, though seemingly began making real traction within the industry last year, as the team announced expanded partnerships with Microsoft in July, when Azure public and private cloud infrastructure was incorporated into the offering, and AWS in August. The team also recently announced a new partnership with Cloud Technology Partners, which it believes will increase cloud adoption rates.
The partnerships are also enabling the company to diversify its geographical focus as over 40% of the AWS customers are coming from non-U.S. regions. Rhodes also believes the new capital-light business models employed enables the company to roll-out new offerings worldwide. Previously, new products were rolled out first in the USA, due to capital intensity, and then phased out over time into other regions worldwide, however the new model is claimed to offer Rackspace increased flexibility and agility in bringing new offerings to the market.
The shift in strategic direction is supported by a renewed effort in the marketing department, as Rhodes highlighted campaigns will now be directed towards driving brand awareness and demand generation for the managed cloud services business, specifically the Fanatical Support services offered to AWS and Microsoft Azure customers.
“Our new head of Global Sales and Marketing, Alex Pinchev, started work at the beginning of Q1,” said Rhodes. “He and his team are moving aggressively to shift resources toward our new fast-growing offers while sustaining our core business. They are training more of our sales teams to sell our new offers and are hiring additional specialists in areas of high demand. We advised you last quarter that these sales and marketing efforts will take time to gain full traction, that transition contributed to our slow start to the year”
Efforts for Rackspace on the OpenStack front would also appear to be bearing fruit, with the launch of OpenStack Everywhere, Next Generation Bare Metal Servers and the Private Cloud Powered by Red Hat offering. All three offerings would seemingly demonstrate the company’s drive towards the OpenStack private and hybrid cloud market segments. The team are confident in the growth potential of the OpenStack private cloud market, and highlighted a number of major customers wins were through this aspect of the business.
“Our role as the co-founder of OpenStack has given us unique capabilities in software development, DevOps, continuous integration and deployment, and other key disciplines,” said Rhodes. “Those capabilities provide a major differentiation for us versus other managed services providers as we expand to provide managed cloud services on AWS and the Microsoft Cloud.
“We’ve really seen a tipping point, what really looks like a significant tipping point in the market for OpenStack private clouds in the last six months to nine months. Some of our largest deals that we closed in March were OpenStack private cloud deals and some of the largest deals that we have in our pipeline today are OpenStack private cloud deal. So, really that’s the traction that we’re seeing.”