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Rackspace Rapidly Transformed Its Own Workforce Amid Crisis, Positioning It To Do The Same For Customers

The managed cloud giant applied its technological expertise to transition staff to working remotely within days, enabling the company to focus on helping enterprise customers navigate the coronavirus crisis.

When the coronavirus pandemic upended how nearly every business in America operates, Rackspace leveraged its technological expertise to rapidly transition its 6,000 employees to working from home—then turned its attention to helping customers do the same.

With a war room led by COO Subroto Mukerji, the San Antonio-based managed cloud provider executed a methodical plan that within several days got the company not only fully operational, but running hyper-efficiently, Chief Solutions Officer Matt Stoyka told CRN.

“We first rallied ourselves and got ourselves into a position to support our customers seamlessly,” Stoyka said. “Our productivity has increased because we’re all so focused on helping our customers now that we have ourselves in good position and in good shape.”

[Related: 5 Things You Need To Know About Rackspace's Onica Acquisition]

Those customers have a similar objective in transitioning employees to working from home—but for many that’s a much harder lift.

“For us in tech, it’s no big deal,” Stoyka said. “But for some of our customers, who are a hundred percent in the office all the time, it’s going back to basics.”

Rackspace specialists have been busy setting up secure networks by moving firewalls out to the edge, and in some cases entirely lifting-and-shifting workloads to preserve business continuity for those enterprises. The managed cloud provider has also accelerated implementation of collaboration solutions, especially Microsoft Teams, which is now available at no cost to businesses and educational institutions for six months.

“Microsoft did well by their clients and partners” with that offer, Stoyka said, and Rackspace is busy adding that solution to Office 365 accounts.

As the coronavirus crisis rages on, Rackspace is seeing demand surge across all the clouds it manages—from its own private infrastructure to the hyper-scale public providers it partners with. The pandemic is accelerating adoption faster than anyone could have predicted, Stoyka said.

From companies previously sitting on the sideline, “we’re seeing more of their interest in driving to the cloud faster,” he said.

Many of those enterprises regret that while they had been talking for a while about digital transformation initiatives, they didn’t execute them sooner. They also understand it’s a multi-cloud world and are looking to Rackspace to advise them where specific workloads can fit and why.

“It’s our job to help them get there,” Stoyka said.

In the meantime, the “solutions team” Stoyka leads has honed in on five unique services it offers to help customers rapidly transition their staffs to remote work and maintain existing operations.

One of those is a “Work Anywhere” solution powered by Microsoft Azure; another is one powered by AWS.

Then there’s a new cloud performance and cost optimization service.

“Everyone now is so concerned with spend, everyone’s budget is in question, so we provided an overall performance and optimization service to help our customers properly consume resources in whatever combination of multi-cloud they are in,” Stoyka said.

Rackspace is also offering a new remote security plan, he said, through which it is working closely with customers to secure their systems since “there’s a lot of bad actors out there.”

Finally, it’s promoting a service to assist customers manage their data center operations under the difficult circumstances created by the pandemic by “leveraging our legacy experience.”

To further do its part in fighting Covid-19, Rackspace has also set aside $10 million in free OpenStack public cloud resources for the next six months for organizations participating in response efforts to the pandemic.

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