Rackspace's Incoming President Sets Sights On Bigger Deals And International Expansion


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Jeff Cotten, named Tuesday as incoming president of Rackspace, told CRN he would focus on growing the company's managed services practice while continuing to evolve its multi-cloud sales model.

Starting Feb. 1, Cotten will formally assume a title held the last couple years by Rackspace CEO Taylor Rhodes, who convinced him to join the San Antonio, Tex.-based cloud, colocation and managed services provider eight years ago. The two previously worked together at Electronic Data Systems (EDS).

While Cotten has held several leadership roles at Rackspace since joining the company, his last position involved leading the team that offers managed services for the AWS public cloud, signaling the escalating importance of Rackspace's partnerships with hyper-scale cloud providers.

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Cotten told CRN he would continue "nurturing and development of the hyper-growth businesses" of managed services around AWS and Microsoft Azure, while working on several of the other priorities the for 2017, its first year as a private company following its acquisition by Apollo Global Management.

"When we got down to looking at what our priorities are for 2017, Taylor [Rhodes] felt very passionately he wanted a partner in crime to focus on those various priorities as an organization," Cotten told CRN.

Beyond the MSP partnerships with former rivals in the public cloud, Cotten said he would work to broaden a portfolio of managed offerings that help customers move up the stack – application hosting environments and development platforms.

Those priorities also include an expansion primarily into the Germany, which Rackspace has explored in recent years through its international outpost in Zurich, Switzerland.

Cotten will also take charge of evolving and expanding the company's sales model after executive vice president of global sales, Alex Pinchev, retires at the end of the month.

"The big sales theme that Alex drove is really moving up-market in the enterprise, doing larger deals with a more consultative and solution-oriented approach," he told CRN.

Rhodes will personally spearhead two of Rackspace's other priorities: further evolution of its private cloud business and a more-focused approach on handling its 100 largest customers, Cotten told CRN.

Cotten started at Rackspace as a manager in its front-line Fanatical Support and Services division.

In the years since, he built much of the company's enterprise field sales organization and ran the international business. Six months ago Cotten took over the rapidly growing AWS business. 

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