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Rackspace to add 'fanatical support' to Amazon's IaaS

Rackspace confirmed rumors it will partner with AWS to add its support services to Amazon's cloud resources, but potential customers are standoffish.

Rackspace and AWS could make unlikely bedfellows by the end of this year.

Rackspace Hosting told analysts on a conference call related to its earnings report last week that it could finalize a deal with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is "building an offering for customers who want specialized expertise and Fanatical Support on the AWS cloud," according to a company spokesperson.  

However, few further details were forthcoming about how the partnership will work.

Amazon Web Services places less of a marketing emphasis than Rackspace on its support services, and has a reputation for being a 'low touch' company based on the early days of the business, but enterprise users have said in recent years they're generally happy with AWS support.

Customers in a position to consider a combination of the two cloud providers were less than sanguine about the potential partnership this week.

For example, Sprout Social, Inc. is a company which uses both Rackspace and AWS right now, though it's in the process of switching from Rackspace to AWS because it was attracted to Amazon's Relational Database Service.

The partnership isn't of interest to Sprout because the company doesn't need the "fanatical support" Rackspace offers.  

"We're a well-staffed team who handles our own gear," Sprout CTO Aaron Rankin said.

That question and others remain open until Rackspace and AWS provide further details.

Still, Rackspace has signed similar deals with former competitors, and analysts say the move isn't unprecedented among managed hosting companies.

"This is simply the next piece of the pie," said Carl Brooks, analyst with 451 Research based in New York. "I would venture that 100% of Rackspace's enterprise customers also use AWS -- they use each provider for different reasons."

Rackspace was seen by some as an early competitor to AWS, but the company fell behind in the infrastructure as a service space considerably as companies such as Microsoft and Google try to keep pace with Amazon in the so-called hyper-scale public cloud. Last year, Rackspace considered a potential sale before doubling down on its strategy around managed cloud services.

Rackspace already offers managed versions of Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Cloud Platform, VMware vCloud and Google Apps for Work.  In the company's first quarter earnings call, company officials hinted at more deals and in July introduced a managed service most akin to AWS with Microsoft Azure.

At the time, CTO John Engates told TechTarget the company had no plans to abandon its own public cloud but acknowledged the Azure deal could be the first of several.

"It's certainly possible we would do other similar support agreements," Engates said.

Amazon declined to comment.

SearchCloudComputing.com news writer Trevor Jones contributed to this report.

Beth Pariseau is senior news writer for SearchAWS. Write to her at bpariseau@techtarget.com or follow @PariseauTT on Twitter.  

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Would your company consider using Rackspace support for AWS?
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I don’t think that Rackspace support for AWS is a huge draw for us. Much like Sprout, we have the resources in place to support our cloud initiatives. We’re more interested in using Rackspace to geographically disperse our load when performing load tests on our websites through our CDN partner.
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Unless RAX is also re-selling the AWS services, I'm trying to think of a scenario where the customer would engage RAX for support. 
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Looks like its a case of “if you can’t beat them, find ways to make money off of them.” Still, it makes sense - if you’re already offering managed cloud services, why not go after those companies who, unlike Sprout, are not well staffed and offer to support them on Amazon.
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Interesting read. This shift we're seeing in the cloud industry of the big guys like AWS and Azure partnering with smaller companies is similar to the airline industry in 2000.
At one point, tons of new air carriers were entering the market each year. By 2000, the airline had already gone through a large consolidation. This consolidation is similar to the state of cloud services where there are no new entrants – AWS is similar to Delta Airlines and Jet Blue is similar to Microsoft Azure, etc.
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