Listening to the Customer: the Rackspace OpenStack Private Cloud Theme of 2017

Rackspace and partner Hewlett Packard Enterprise sent ripples through the industry last month when we announced the first delivered as a managed service.

The development of an OpenStack private cloud customers can consume like a public cloud, with utility-like pricing and elastic infrastructure, capped a year of breakthrough offerings Rackspace has developed to provide customers with superior economics and a successful path to private cloud.

Because it’s clear that’s what customers are seeking. According to IDC, the compound annual growth rate for the private cloud-as-a-service market is growing 27 percent from 2016 to 2019. Already, fully half of all Fortune 100 companies rely on OpenStack; it’s probably only a matter of time until the rest follow along.

As a co-creator of OpenStack with NASA back in 2010 and today the market leader in private cloud as a service, Rackspace is proud to keep creating the kinds of private cloud services organizations are clamoring for.

In May, Rackspace was named “2017 Red Hat Innovator of the Year” for our work on the Rackspace Private Cloud powered by Red Hat offering, which delivers OpenStack private clouds as-a-service using the Red Hat OpenStack Platform. As is often the case at Rackspace, RPC powered by Red Hat was developed in response to customer demand. As Bryan Thompson, general manager of the OpenStack Private Cloud business at Rackspace wrote at the time,

This recognition is a testament to the hard work and innovation that both Rackspace and Red Hat team members poured into developing this solution over an 18-month period of time. And it is another signal of the strong momentum behind organizations wanting to consume private clouds as-a-service.

Confirmation that we’re getting it right for our customers came that same month, when Patrick Weeks, GE’s senior director of digital operations, took the stage at OpenStack Summit Boston for the first day’s keynote and shared the kind of story that makes all the work we do worthwhile.

Watch Weeks’ keynote to learn why one architect at GE Healthcare said of Rackspace’s OpenStack private cloud, “This platform must be made of awesome!”

June brought news that Forrester Research recognized Rackspace as a leader for our Rackspace OpenStack Private Cloud offering, ranking above all vendors in the strategy category and automation capabilities criterion. In addition, wrote Scott Crenshaw, executive vice president of private clouds at Rackspace:

We were also among the vendors that scored highest for self-service portal and user interface, integration strength, service level agreements (SLAs), storage and contract agreements criteria. In fact, the Forrester report specifically mentions customer references contacted during the evaluation, which called out Rackspace for our “superior self-service control options relative to other evaluated solutions,” and described them as “best-in-class.”

The Forrester report comes on the heels of a recently released Gartner report, the “2017 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide,” in which Rackspace was called “the market leader in industrialized private cloud IaaS.”  The Gartner report also noted that our private cloud-as-a-service offerings are “thoughtfully constructed, more automated than most competing offerings, and operated in a fashion that allows Rackspace to deliver reliable, well-supported services at economical prices and at scale.”

And the reach of our expertise is global: just this month, in fact, Rackspace was named a Leader in Managed OpenStack Distributions in Germany by Information Services Group, an independent, global market research and consulting firm.

These types of independent evaluation are critically important for organizations around the world that are searching for the right IT partner to help grow their business.

Perhaps even more important, however, is what our customers have to say. That’s why Rackspace is an advocate of the Net Promoter Score, or NPS, which allows companies to see how customers assess their efforts and outcomes. Since 2013, we have tracked our NPS scores to monitor how our customers feel about the experience we provide.

As Josh Villarreal, director of Service Delivery and Operations on the private cloud team at Rackspace wrote in July:

A high Net Promoter Score is notoriously difficult to obtain. The average technology company has a score of 38. At Rackspace however, we’ve recently seen new levels of success. our response rates have stayed at or above 50 — an almost unprecedented level for cloud companies. What’s more exciting, is that it’s mostly been an upward trend.

We also take our customer experience and customers’ feedback very seriously. If a customer gives us a Passive or Detractor score (8 or below), we follow up directly with that customer to work on creating a solution for them that meets their expectations.

Additionally, for the positive feedback we receive, we don’t simply rejoice in having a good score, we instead discuss the comments from our promoters internally and highlight what we did well. This helps us continue to push in the areas that our customers find the most successful — making a good thing great.

And that brings us back to our new pay-as-you go OpenStack private cloud. Working with HPE we took the good that comes with private cloud — the increased performance, control and security — and combined it with arguably one of public cloud’s most popular features: a utility model that allows customers to pay for only what they use.

Best of all, Rackspace will manage it wherever the customer wants: their datacenter or ours, or a colocation facility. Because what we know (again, listening to our customers) is that most companies don’t have the necessary experience to manage a cloud at scale. They need help and want to consume cloud services the way cloud was meant to be consumed: as-a-service.

And while we’re justifiably proud of this latest offering, we didn’t exactly hit it out of the park when we named it. As our executive vice president Scott Crenshaw noted, we’re not known for clever product names. The two versions of our private cloud-as-a-service, after all, are Rackspace Private Cloud powered by OpenStack, and Rackspace Private Cloud powered by Red Hat. But “OpenStack Private Cloud with pay per use infrastructure, delivered by Rackspace and Hewlett Packard Enterprise” is a real doozy.

Crenshaw definitely had some fun with it:

I tried shortening it by using its acronym in briefings. But “OPCWPPUIDBRAHPE” just doesn’t roll off the tongue. I wanted to call it “The On-Demand Private Cloud-as-a-Service (which is more affordable than public cloud!),” but I got lots of objections. I even tried “Tidy!” as a simple, catchy name, which Welsh readers and fans of the great TV show Gavin and Stacey will immediately appreciate as very appropriate.

As we look forward to new innovations in 2018, I want to thank all the OpenStack experts at Rackspace, who continually work to delight our customers and make our OpenStack private clouds industry leading.

Want to learn more? Take advantage of a free, no strings attached strategy session with one of our experts. Space is limited so sign up today.

Christian Foster is the Senior Director of Marketing for the OpenStack Cloud business. A Racker since 2013, he has more than 17 years of experience in marketing and strategy roles including eCommerce, brand management, product marketing, operations, demand generation, executive communications, media relations, and corporate strategy. Christian holds a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from Baylor University and is a native of Austin, Texas. When he is not on the golf course or working out, Christian and his wife Megan can be found spending time with their 11-year-old daughter, seven-year-old son, and a King Charles Spaniel named Ellie.

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