Rackspace positioning around cloud and OpenStack, from the CEO

Now that they don’t have to compete with AWS, they have an extra $300m floating around in the spreadsheets:

“Ultimately now it’s about how are we going to build a stronger company. If we don’t have to go spend $300 million a year in capital competing against Amazon, building computing storage and networking, where should we go put that? In things like managed cybersecurity and professional services,” said Rhodes.

On OpenStack, finding the product/market for for private cloud:

And what about OpenStack, the open-source cloud computing platform that Rackspace created with NASA?

“We thought the world wanted another alternative to public cloud,” said Rhodes. “What we are learning is the world doesn’t need another public cloud, so OpenStack is shifting form and going private cloud.”

Also, cameo from my former 451 colleague Carl Brooks.

Link

“No one wants to eat a finger-pie.” – Software Defined Talk #70

This week we discuss Rackspace going private and the OpenStack cloud scenarios that could have been. We also cover Matt Ray’s first trip to New Zealand where, sadly, he finds no Power Ranger monuments. Also, a little bi-modal flavor for ya.

Check out the full show notes (https://cote.io/sdt70) for links to the recommendations, conferences, and tech news items we didn’t get to cover.

Listen above, subscribe to the feed (or iTunes), or download the MP3 directly.

With Brandon Whichard, Matt Ray, and Coté.

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Show notes

RAX goes private for $4.3bn

OpenStack dead, again.

  • “Tough times ahead”.
  • “There was a time when it was hard to read an article about OpenStack without hearing about ‘pets vs. cattle,’ and OpenStack was designed to herd cattle”
  • “It has itself become a big, complex pet, which is why Mirantis and others can make a living providing services, software and training.”
  • What could have happened: (1.) “we can beat AWS,” or, (2.) “containers, shoulda thought of that.”

Innovation is hard, esp. business-wise

  • How could you compete with AWS?
  • Word vs. Google Docs vs. Office 365.
  • Uber has spent at least $4bn?

BONUS LINKS! Not Covered in show

AWS Sentinel is Coming

  • Skunkworks-ish project from AWS for managed services. Potentially lots of partner conflict
  • “MSPs need to work with customers to convert their infrastructure to Platform-as-a-Service using microservices architecture,” said one AWS partner. “They also need to bring DevOps into the heart of the organization. Unfortunately, most MSPs don’t have the developers that truly understand this.”
  • “Few AWS Partners Are Really Surprised By Sentinel’s Emergence“

MariaDB switches away from open source license

Hashicorp Shuts Down Otto

Microsoft Open Sources Powershell

Recommendations

  • Brandon: first US college football game in Australia
  • Matt: Rugby, help me learn it.
  • Coté: BCG on two speed IT; Wizard of Oz series.

Rackspace goes private for $4.3bn

  • Apollo Global Management paying $4.3bn to acquire Rackspace, $32 a share in cash, a 38 percent premium (Bloomberg)
  • Competing against AWS is hard, plus the other mega public cloud plays: “Google’s parent, Alphabet Inc., Amazon and Microsoft have combined cash holdings of more than $200 billion compared to Rackspace’s less than $1 billion.”
  • Brenon at 451 points out that Rackspace throws off a good amount of cash, “$674m of EBITDA over the past year,” and concludes:
  • More from Brenon: “While we could imagine that focus on customer service as competitive differentiator might set up some tension under PE ownership (people are expensive and tend not to scale very well), Rackspace has the advantage of having built that into a profitable business. In short, Rackspace is just the sort of business that should fit comfortably in a PE portfolio.”
  • Meanwhile, as we discuss on Software Defined Talk (#70, “No one wants to eat a finger-pie”), AWS is at a run-rate of ~$10-11bn and growing.
  • In the recent Gartner IaaS Magic Quadrant, Racksapce is in the dread lower left hand corner. To be fair, a whole other MQ, “Cloud Enabled Managed Hosting,” which maps closer to what Rackspace says is their core strategy in cloud, has Rackspace leading. But, back to that “normal IaaS” MQ:
  • The MQ says “Rackspace has successfully pivoted from its ‘Open Cloud Company,’ OpenStack-oriented strategy, and returned to its roots as “a company of experts emphasizing its managed service expertise and superior support experience.”
  • Also: “Rackspace will continue to divert investment from its Public Cloud to other areas of its business, rather than try to compete directly for self-managed public cloud IaaS against market-leading providers that can rapidly deliver innovative capabilities at very low cost, or against established IT vendors that have much greater resources and global sales reach.”
  • See also Rachel’s analysis over at RedMonk.

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Finally, check out a tad of commentary on the deal in #32 of Pivotal Conversations.

Cisco not looking at Rackspace, doesn’t fit M&A criteria

“We don’t move into a market unless we think we have a realistic chance of gaining 40% market share with sustainable differentiation,” Chambers said at the Cisco Live conference when asked if the company needs to acquire an established cloud provider like Rackspace to succeed in cloud services. “And we try not to move into markets that don’t have really good gross margins, unless they’re unusually strategic for us. That’s a market that is very, very price sensitive; that’s taking on the big giants in Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. So those are the types of scenarios we look at as a partnership opportunity (rather) than we do acquisitions. I’m not going to comment on if we looked at them or not. It doesn’t fit into our normal sweet spot and core competency area.”

That’s a pretty clear criteria and close to what many large tech companies would want.

Cisco not looking at Rackspace, doesn’t fit M&A criteria

“Rackspace simply cannot play in that league”

Good ol’ TPM!

Also:

Rackspace is also the largest publicly traded cloud and hosting provider, and unlike its rivals, its numbers are right out there. No one knows for sure what revenues and profits AWS, Microsoft, and Google are getting from their cloud and hosting businesses, and ditto for smaller players and telcos who also sell capacity by the month or by the hours. The pressure from Wall Street has Rackspace looking at its options, and maybe had the company a chance to do it all over again, it would have stayed private.

Read the rest…

“Rackspace simply cannot play in that league”