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Rackspace Doubles Down on Microsoft Competencies

Hosting and managed cloud services provider Rackspace is doubling down on its Microsoft commitments, at least in terms of earning Microsoft competencies.

Rackspace announced Thursday that it went from five Microsoft competencies a year ago to 10 competencies now.

Rackspace renewed gold competencies in Cloud Platform, Cloud Productivity, Collaboration and Content, Hosting, and Small and Mid-Market Cloud Solutions. The San Antonio, Texas-based provider added gold competencies in Application Development and Data Center and silver competencies in Data Analytics, Data Platform and Messaging.

The company also touted individual Microsoft certifications by its employees, referred to officially by the company as "Rackers" -- 1,000 technical certifications and 800 sales and licensing certifications. Without providing specifics, a spokesperson said the individual certifications marked a "significant increase" from 2015 to 2016.

The investment in technical expertise and competencies comes during a time that Rackspace has been undergoing major changes as a company. The company went private in a $4.3 billion deal that closed in November.

At the same time, Rackspace has been aggressively expanding from its traditional hosting business to add a substantial practice involving providing managed services for public clouds and hybrid clouds.

For what would be Rackspace's final public earnings release last August, CEO Taylor Rhodes said the company was providing managed services for nearly 600 customers on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft cloud services and OpenStack. "Demand is scaling rapidly for the expertise and managed services that we provide to businesses that use AWS, the Microsoft cloud and our OpenStack private cloud," Rhodes said at the time.

Although AWS has the bigger share of the total cloud platform market, Rackspace's emphasis so far has been heavier on the Microsoft side, which befits its 15-year partnership with Microsoft as a major hosting provider. The five-time Microsoft Partner of the Year Award winner's Microsoft technology products and services include Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure, Rackspace Private Cloud powered by Microsoft Cloud Platform, Fanatical Support for Office 365 and Rackspace Support for Microsoft SQL Server.

That said, the company is rapidly building up its AWS expertise in parallel. The Rackspace Web site currently claims more than 700 individual AWS technical certifications, up from 500 in November and 300 in July.

While Rackspace is a major Microsoft partner in its own right, the company serves as an intermediary between Microsoft and a lot of other Microsoft partners, as well. Rackspace has referral and reseller programs and stepped up within the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program last July from being a marquee Tier-1 CSP to becoming a Tier-2 CSP, a distribution role that allows companies in the Rackspace Partner Network to resell Office 365 and Azure.

Posted by Scott Bekker on February 16, 2017 at 10:44 AM