Rackspace VP: Partners Should Share More Customer Data

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Channel partners need to be more courageous in sharing customer information with cloud and hosting providers, according to Rackspace's technology vice president, but partners fear sharing customer information will impact account control.

In an interview with CRN, John Igoe, the new vice president of technology at Rackspace, a San Antonio, Texas-based hosting provider that offers its services through both direct sales and channels, urged channel partners to become more open with cloud providers and other allies whom he believes can help maximize the odds of a sale through combined efforts.

"In the past, the channel viewed suppliers as people who provided products that they could then take to the end user," he said. "But I think we're seeing a new model emerge where it's best to approach the customer jointly in order to cover all the necessary bases, and differentiate [their combined value proposition]. The channel is always very reluctant to do that because they are concerned about the vendor taking control of the partner."


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That recommendation did not sit well with Phil Mogavero, vice president of advanced technology solutions at PCM, a Calabasas, Calif.-based solution provider, who expressed concern that today's ally can often become tomorrow's competitor.

"The customer belongs to the channel partner, and those relationships are really the most important long-term value we have," Mogavero told CRN. "Giving that information to people who might someday become competitors is a potential threat to our organization. Once you have a great relationship, you end up turning information over in order to use deal registration and similar programs. But, you want to make sure that the other company doesn't have a history of taking deals direct, and doesn't plan to do so in the future."

Meanwhile, Jack Gerbs, president of Quanexus, Inc., a Daytona, Ohio-based solution provider, is conflicted about Igoe's recommendation.

"I agree that we need to get over our concerns about sharing the customer in order to better present the value, but it is extremely dangerous," he said. "The fundamental relationship is with our clients. But, the cloud is here to stay, and we need to choose our cloud providers carefully because few companies our size are going to be able to stand up their own cloud. This means we end up with co-ownership of the client. I don't like exposing the customer information because if the relationship with the cloud provider deteriorates, you could find yourself getting poached."

NEXT: An Alternative Approach

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