Rackspace’s Wetzel Initiates New 5 Pillar Partner Strategy


Edward Gately**Editor’s Note: Click here for a list of August’s important channel-program changes you should know.**

Blake Wetzel has been Rackspace’s channel chief for a little more than three months and already the company’s channel strategy is undergoing a substantial makeover.

The new channel strategy will include five go-to-market pillars with five different segments of partners. The five pillars include: global and regional SIs; technology go-to-market partners, such as OEMs, software and cloud companies; agents; VARs and distributors; and ISVs.

Rackspace's Blake WetzelWetzel tells Channel Partners a new leadership team, which includes a mix of former CenturyLink and current Rackspace channel executives, is already in place to lead the five partner communities.

“What we wanted to do is be very proactive and prescriptive about the types of partners we are going after and developing a depth of expertise around specific practice areas where we felt there’s a great intersection between the migration of cloud technologies to these types of communities of partners,” he said.

SIs not only have a “big play” in customer cloud migrations, but can help Rackspace “fill some gaps” as third-party organizations, bringing their expertise to the market and helping to complete customer offerings, Wetzel said.

Technology go-to-market partners include organizations like Microsoft, Amazon and EMC, he said.{ad}

“This will be an interesting area because as we develop these joint solutions with those organizations, if all parties are in agreement, we will want to go together and do joint releases … roll out collectively and take it to market collectively,” Wetzel said.

Rackspace is actively recruiting agents, and its redefined contract is now “sitting in the hands of a number of new partners who have been interested in working with Rackspace,” he said.

The ISV business is being built on the foundation of Rackspace’s digital practice, Wetzel said.

“Our first ISV is actually launching [its] cloud platform powered by Rackspace,” he said.

Previously, Rackspace’s partner strategy included a larger number of partner communities with leadership spread across all of them, Wetzel said.

“It was very inconsistent because each of those pillars [is] going to have …


… disciplines and ways of going to market that are different from each other,” he said. “By actually setting them as separate organizations and having ownership of those accounts inside of those organizations, we’ll actually be able to go very deep with those organizations and know … the best practices of how to work with an ISV or how to work with an agent, or how to work with a tech partner.”

Rackspace is still going to offer its entire portfolio to partners, just not present the entirety to every partner. The company will be more specific about what it markets with specific partners moving forward.

“It’s going to be much more of a laser-focused approach with each of the organizations and going deeper with a lot more expertise in these particular types of partners,” he said.

Late last month, Rackspace announced is it being acquired by Apollo Global Management. When the $4.3 billion acquisition is complete, Rackspace will switch from a public to a private company.

“We’re very excited about the new opportunities that it will open up,” Wetzel said. “There is a lot to be determined yet. Obviously we can’t do very much until the acquisition is closed. We want to get the (channel) strategy in place and see the traction that it has in the market … a very hungry market and a community of partners that have been very excited to work with Rackspace, so I don’t think [going private] changes anything right now. We’re just aggressively going out and implementing the strategy, and seeing the traction, and we will be working with Apollo once we get closed.”

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