Rackspace Preps Unified Partner Program

Rackspace will break down the silos that separate its four disparate partner programs, creating a single, cohesive channel program, the company told partners at its Partner Leadership Summit in San Antonio on Wednesday.

The One Rackspace Partner Program will combine Rackspace's four existing programs around managed hosting, cloud hosting, mail and SharePoint and Jungle Disk, to create a single channel offering for its growing roster of nearly 4,500 partners, Robert Fuller, Rackspace's vice president of worldwide channel sales, said.

The move to unify the four current programs comes as Rackspace's partner offerings grew by several orders of magnitude over the past 12 months. According to Fuller, the managed hosting program grew from 689 active partners to 2,453 since September 2009, representing 356 percent growth, while partner bookings in that program increased 218 percent in that same 12 month period. Meanwhile, Rackspace's partner program around cloud, mail and Jungle Disk grew to 1,990 partners and cloud billings grew 355 percent in 2010, Fuller said.

"In the next 12 months our goal is to unify all four of these partner programs," Fuller said, later adding "We're now putting our foot on the accelerator to make sure we're the No. 1 program."

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The One Rackspace Partner Program, which is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2011, sill includes one contract, one on-boarding experience, one partner portal and one program communications. It will also feature a one-tier structure of member, silver, gold and platinum; tiered benefits at each level; and partners will be tiered on volume of total benefit. Additionally, the program will feature an integrated compensation infrastructure.

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To help partners integrate the program into their business, Rackspace plans to offer a host of tools including microsites, co-branded collateral, customer communications tools, customer co-marketing, product collateral, press releases and resources like sales reps, solution engineers and channel account managers. Rackspace also plans to launch training initiatives around the new program soon, Fuller said.

Rackspace has also invested more than $500,000 in its IT infrastructure to power the program and plans to offer a PRM interface, partner managed profiles, compensation automation, a partner locator and reseller control panels for cloud, mail and Jungle Disk offerings where partners can resell and white-label those solutions.

A single program, Fuller said, will help partners attack new market segments and offer solutions and services they didn't have access to in the previous segmented programs. All told, he said, partners can increase their share of wallet and will have the ability to cross-sell across Rackspace's portfolio.

"By combining four partner programs into one … it means when you talk to a customer or a potential customer you can share a broad range of services," he said.

Rackspace's tying together of its partner programs will come roughly a year after Rackspace launched its first cloud-specific channel program to accommodate the swift growth of its cloud offerings. In the second quarter of 2010, Rackspace added 8,510 customers to its cloud computing business, making its total number of cloud customers more than 88,000. In the same period, the company's cloud revenue rose to $23.2 million.

Before the One Rackspace Partner Program launches early next year, Fuller said Rackspace is looking for feedback from partners to help guide the program. "We're in this together. This is our program," he said. "We really have to work as a team to seize this opportunity."