Rackspace is adding Microsoft's Azure platform to its portfolio of managed cloud services for enterprise customers. The move will see Rackspace act as reseller for Azure compute resources, which it will back up with its Fanatical support services.
Announced at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando, the move is designed to bolster Rackspace's cloud offerings for customers, especially in the increasingly key hybrid cloud market, as the firm already provides hosted private cloud services based on Microsoft's Cloud Platform System.
Known officially as Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure, the new offering will enable customers to extend their own IT capabilities by accessing resources from Azure through Rackspace. The firm will add value in customer support and assistance with implementation.
"What we're basically doing is extending our reach into the Microsoft Azure public cloud," Rackspace chief technology officer John Engates told V3.
He said that hybrid cloud is recognised by organisations as the key technology for making the best use of IT resources, but that complexity is currently holding many of these companies back.
"We have an opportunity to help reduce the risk and get customers moving towards cloud computing again by introducing this new product and combining great expertise and service with industry-leading technologies," he said.
"Starting today, we will support workloads on behalf of customers on top of the Microsoft Azure platform, and taking advantage of Azure virtual machines, Azure Active Directory, SQL Server and SQL Azure, Azure Express Route and Azure Traffic Manager."
However, organisations in the UK and the rest of Europe will have to wait to take advantage of this new offering, as it will be available only to Rackspace's North American customers from today.
This is down to licensing terms and not limitations in Rackspace's infrastructure, Engates was at pains to point out. The firm plans to expand to Europe later this year or early next year, he added.
Rackspace will offer Azure in two ways: a resale model where support is bundled with Azure services with integrated billing; or customers can bring in existing Azure subscriptions for which Rackspace will take over support.
"This is giving customers that are deep in the Microsoft ecosystem a real choice. They can run workloads on their own dedicated servers, they can run on Microsoft hosted private cloud here at Rackspace, or they can run on the Azure public cloud, and we can stitch that all together for them in the hybrid cloud scenario, built on the back of Rackspace expertise," Engates said.
Rackspace's latest move follows a decision last year to move to a new business model focused on managed services and quality of support, rather than trying to compete on the price of cloud resources with rivals such as Amazon Web Services.
"The first wave of cloud adoption was the do-it-yourself crowd, early adopters willing to roll up their sleeves and figure out how to do it themselves," Engates said.
"We think there are more companies with more dollars out there who want to get to cloud but who don't have the skills or expertise, and that's the kind of customer we are trying to address."
Rackspace also offers cloud services based on other platforms such as VMware and OpenStack, the latter of which the firm played a key part in creating.
Earlier this year, the firm introduced Dedicated VMware vCloud, a single-tenant, hosted environment based on VMware's technology.
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