Just one of the many sections of desks at Rackspace. Photo by Scott Ball.
The Rackspace headquarters, also known as 'The Castle,' is located in the former Windsor Park Mall in Northeast San Antonio. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Rackspace prides itself on its Fanatical Support. While it’s billed as a hosting company, Rackspace has also become a leader in support for its cloud options – offering human help to customers big and small worldwide. As of Tuesday, even Seattle-based online retailer and cloud computing giant Amazon, one of Rackspace’s competitors, has signed up to receive Fanatical Support.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), a cloud computing platform offered by Amazon, made the announcement in tandem with San Antonio-based Rackspace on Tuesday morning at its re:Invent conference in Las Vegas.

“We have been with Rackspace since 2004 and the company has a proven reputation of delivering the highest level of customer support,” stated Jonathan Issler, director of operational technology at InfoSnap, in a news release. “We have some workloads that run on AWS as well and we’ve researched other companies that could potentially provide support for this platform, but none were a good fit. When Rackspace approached us about its Fanatical Support for AWS offering, we signed immediately based on the strength of their managed cloud experience and expertise.”

Issler’s story is exactly the kind of gap AWS and Rackspace hope to fill. While AWS provides the technology and infrastructure for Amazon customers, Rackspace “provides businesses with managed cloud services, tools, and applications that allow customers to focus on their core business.” The arrangement also allows Amazon to focus on its core businesses instead of customer support, a field where Amazon has a poor track record.

Issler is also the prime example of the modern business customer that hosts with both AWS and Rackspace, depending on the specific needs of the workload or website.

“Over the past year, more and more (customers) have told us that they love Rackspace expertise and Fanatical Support, and would like to get it for the workloads that they prefer to run on AWS,”  stated Rackspace President and CEO Taylor Rhodes on the Rackspace blog.

While still cloud computing competitors, Amazon and Rackspace have begun to differentiate their products in the market to maximize their shares. AWS can quickly deploy engineering and infrastructure while Rackspace has focused on offering premium services like support.

“We have been impressed with Rackspace’s commitment to include beta customers in their AWS managed service offerings, along with certifying a large number of their technical staff,” stated Terry Wise, vice president of worldwide partner ecosystem, Amazon Web Services, Inc.

Rackspace is joining a network of partners that work to support AWS customers with 100 certified AWS engineers. Rackspace’s AWS support team is one of the largest in the world, stated Rhodes.

The two companies have developed a “collabitition” of sorts that blends collaboration and competition. And it’s not the first nor the last time the tech industry has seen it.

In July, Rackspace and Microsoft came to a similar agreement for Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing program.

According to one industry analyst’s blog, “It appears that Rackspace is changing tactics yet again as it keeps its options open in the rapidly growing and constantly changing cloud computing market.”

*Top image: Inside Rackspace headquarters, also known as “The Castle.”  Photo by Scott Ball. 

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Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org