The Fanatical Faces Of Rackspace Private Cloud: Bryan Thompson

As one of the pillars of hybrid cloud, Rackspace Private Cloud started with a mission to build and operate private clouds powered by OpenStack in our data center, in a colocation facility or in a customer’s data center. In this weekly blog series, we’ll profile some of the key members of the Rackspace Private Cloud team to give you a glimpse into the inner workings of a team that’s helping to define and deliver the future of private and hybrid clouds.

A self-described “bad snowboarder and crappy golfer,” Bryan Thompson excels at leading the Rackspace Private Cloud Team as the Director of Product Management. I sat down with Bryan to get his thoughts on moving to Texas, Rackspace Culture and his journey to cloud.

Tell me about your journey to cloud computing.
I have worked in technology for over 15 years, starting out as the “IT guy” for small companies and consulting, to later moving on to help a very large e-commerce retailer in Seattle expand, to enabling third-party sellers on their platform. I spent a few years in the CDN space helping companies solve the challenges of content delivery at very large scale (including “CDN enabling” of several early “cloud” companies). I spent the last few years leading product management for a late-stage startup public cloud provider and had great success progressing their platform and service offering, including garnering significant customer wins and industry analyst attention. Earlier this year the opportunity presented itself for me to be a valued member of a winning team on an inspiring mission, so I jumped on it!!!

What ultimately led you to decide to leave your previous role to work for Rackspace in Texas?
In my previous role, I lived in Denver but traveled roughly 85 percent of the time (about four days every week). I am passionate about the cloud space and enjoyed the work I was doing and the team I was doing it with, however the toll my travel schedule was inflicting on my family was becoming too great. The opportunity to join Rackspace presented me with a much larger stage to work on and, while requiring relocation, as a family we saw the opportunity for me to be home more. We had never lived in Texas, but were all excited about the idea of trading in our snow shovels for some additional pairs of shorts and flip flops. Besides, I have an 11-year-old daughter who was convinced from the start that she would see horses at every turn – it was an easy sell.

What do you love most about Rackspace?
So I bet 90 percent of the answers you get to this question are some derivative of: “The Culture.” It is probably one in the same, but one of the things I love most about Rackspace is the “passion.” Everyone you work with – regardless of role/responsibility – is very passionate about the company, our customers and their ability to contribute/affect the business. You don’t find Rackers who are just punching the clock or going through the motions of their daily job – everyone is genuinely invested and engaged in what they are doing and how it can influence the bigger picture.

What are the most important traits or skills you look for when bringing on new team members?
For me it ties back to the thing I love about Rackspace today – passion. You have to be passionate about this industry and/or your craft. When you are passionate about something you tend to pour yourself into it and drive for results. This tends to yield a more productive and engaged team member and can be contagious as well (helping the overall team keep the fire burning strong).

What makes cloud and OpenStack so exciting to you?
For me, coming to Rackspace provided the opportunity to be a part of something that is changing the way companies are doing business (cloud) as well as being part of a significant catalyst to that change (OpenStack) and the community evolving it.

Where do you see Rackspace, OpenStack and private cloud at in five years?
I believe the adoption of cloud technologies will continue to ramp to the point where it is a standard component of every company’s IT strategy. I think OpenStack will further fuel that adoption as the open platform continues to spawn an entire ecosystem of augmenting and extending technologies. I think Rackspace will continue to be closely associated with the growth and power of OpenStack itself and will also be part of that ecosystem surrounding it – providing augmenting and extending services and technologies that help customers not just “move to the cloud” but to truly derive business value.

Anything else you want to add or anything interesting about you that you’d want people to know? 
I was interviewed by Wendy Kauffman of NPR a few years back for a radio piece about “the cloud” during which she asked me to describe what “the cloud” is without using any technology terms. Her guidance was to “pretend you are explaining this to your 85-year-old grandmother….” Seems simple enough, but it turned out to be one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do!  In my spare time, I enjoy chasing around my two kids.

Thanks, Bryan, for answering our questions and for being one of the Fanatical Faces of Rackspace Private Cloud. Check out more interviews in this blog series here.


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