Rackspace Launches Cloud-Focused Partner Program

Rackspace vice president of worldwide channels Robert Fuller unveiled the program Thursday during a “State of the Union” update for Rackspace channel partners. Currently, Rackspace has roughly 1,500 partners globally, 1,100 of which are in the U.S.

The launch of a cloud-specific program comes on the heels of a strong quarter for Rackspace, which generated overall revenue of $169.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, up more than 4 percent from the third quarter and up more than 18 percent from the same quarter in 2009.

Cloud computing, specifically, was a high growth area for the San Antonio-based Rackspace, which saw cloud computing revenue climb to $17.1 million in the fourth quarter, up from $15.3 million in 2009’s third quarter. From 2008 to 2009, Rackspace cloud revenue saw a massive jump, skyrocketing 124.8 percent to $56.4 million, Fuller said.

According to Fuller, at the off-set Rackspace’s new cloud partner program will be separate from other Rackspace partner programs -- managed hosting and Email & Apps -- due to a different compensation structure for partners.

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“Initially, we’re treating this as a separate partner program,” Fuller said, adding that current Rackspace partners would have to sign up to become a part of the cloud program despite membership in other Rackspace programs. Rackspace e-mailed current partners information on the cloud partner program Thursday containing a link to sign up and to access additional details.

The cloud partner program is aimed at two types of partners: affiliates and resellers. Under the new program, affiliates will earn 5 percent of customers’ monthly spend for three years and commissions start during the first month of active billing. Reseller partners buy cloud hosting services directly from Rackspace and resell them to customers and generate profits from customer fees.

Rackspace’s overall four-tier partner program, meanwhile, ranges from 5 percent on new commissions or discount for member level partners through up to 15 percent on new contracts, footprints and upgrades for platinum level partners. Gold and platinum partners also receive a percentage on customer renewals.

Along with adding a new cloud-focused program, Rackspace also revealed a host of updates to its overall partner program. Fuller said Rackspace is building on the partner program, which was officially relaunched in September 2009, and so far a new partner portal and contact automation and opportunity registration processes have been completed. Rackspace hopes to launch commission automation soon.

Additionally, Rackspace has launched a host of new marketing tools to help partners engage and re-engage customers, including new hosting microsites that integrate into VAR Web sites and add customized and co-branded collateral to the partner portal. The portal will also be updated to add new features like training modules, referral submissions and reporting, updated partner search functionality and commission reporting. Other new tools available to partners include solution cheat sheets, product data sheets, pitch presentations and additional information on how to position and sell Rackspace offerings.

While Rackspace does not specifically breakdown what percentage of its business comes through channels, Fuller estimated that between about 60 percent and 85 percent of overall IT is delivered through channels and there’s no reason Rackspace’s products and services “shouldn’t follow that path.”