Rackspace, Cloud Technology Partners Team Up For AWS-Focused MSP, SI Offering

A unique partnership unveiled Thursday between Rackspace and Cloud Technology Partners should dispel any doubt that cloud is driving a realignment of the channel.

The San Antonio, Texas-based "managed cloud" operator has joined forces with CTP, a solution provider from Boston, to offer large enterprise customers end-to-end services primarily geared around Amazon's public cloud.

The strategic relationship, meant to encourage enterprise cloud adoption, involves CTP doing initial integrations and ongoing optimization work, and Rackspace providing managed services to those customers.

[Related: Rackspace Is Betting On The Wisdom Of 'Co-Opetition']

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The partnership stems from demand both companies have been fielding from some of their largest customers, said Chris Cochran, senior vice president and general manager of Rackspace's AWS group.

"For Rackspace, people said, 'Fine, you're an MSP, we understand what that means and what you bring to the table. But we have problems that extend upstream from what you're good at,' " Cochran told CRN.

CTP, on the other hand, had a lot of customers happy with its application-level consulting and system integration work, but they were looking for a managed services component.

"They require different muscle groups," Cochran said. "What they're very good at is complementary to what we're very good at. That's why we knew it would actually solve a problem in the market."

The two companies had worked together in the past. But the relationship "started heating up" back in October, when Rackspace launched Fanatical Support for AWS, a managed service offering for customers of a cloud provider once considered a bitter rival. A few months earlier, Rackspace introduced a similar offering around Microsoft Azure.

Rackspace saw that enterprises interested in deploying multi-cloud environments leveraging AWS or Azure infrastructure along with its own public and private OpenStack clouds were looking for unified professional services, Cochran said.

Beyond an MSP, those companies wanted a consultant who could work on the economics of migrations, business case and portfolio assessments, and fundamental cloud strategy.

"They had needs that were upstream of what managed service providers could do," Cochran said. "As we talked to people in the market, including the providers themselves, all roads started pointing back to CTP."

The combination of two specialists in their respective domains can offer a process that starts with the business case for cloud adoption, and ends with the customer running their applications in the cloud, he said.

While the union isn't solely formed around Amazon's cloud, "we go to where customer demand pulls us. And what we're hearing from large Fortune 500 customers," Cochran told CRN, is "that AWS will be their primary target for public cloud."

Brian Ott, vice president at Cloud Technology Partners, told CRN he's seeing between 70 percent and 80 percent of enterprise engagements "driving to AWS as their preferred platform." Azure picks up most of the slack, often from slightly smaller enterprises that are already Microsoft shops.

The solution provider has long been offering a cloud adoption program that involves a holistic methodology enabled by automation and tooling. The program integrates CTP's own intellectual property around security, design architecture, configuration deployment, standardized tools, reference architectures and also DevOps capabilities.

CTP has been working the past few months with Rackspace to align the elements of that program with the managed services processes its partner brings to the table.

"These are not big-bang, one-time events to move the entire data center," Ott said of the enterprise engagements. There are slow-downs and sprints, with groups of several apps integrated at a time.

And CTP doesn't hand off the account to Rackspace -- its engineers stay involved, working hand in -hand with the Rackspace team through the customer life cycle, helping optimize the environments after deployment by reducing cost and taking advantage of performance capabilities introduced by the cloud providers.

In a statement, Rackspace CEO Taylor Rhodes said: ’We are seeing increasing demand from enterprises that are seeking help moving to AWS and Azure, and then successfully managing their environments once deployed.’