OSCON 2011, an O’Reilly conference on Open Source, was held in Portland this week. The event brought a plethora of Open Source advocates to the city, including a sizable contingent from Rackspace in San Antonio.
Cloud Evangelist, Matt Wilbanks, made the trip and he took time from his conference schedule to explain how and why Rackspace appeals to and benefits the ad agency market. One of the biggest features of running a promotion in the cloud is cost. Wilbanks said dedicated servers might run a company $10K to $15K, where a cloud solution may only cost $150/month. Thanks to the ability to quickly scale in the cloud, a company doesn’t pay for wasted resources.
I asked Wilbanks about the biggest resistance he faces when pitching cloud. He said, “giving up control.” People, particularly people with titles like Directors of Technology, don’t like it when they can’t “reach out and touch the box,” said Wilbanks. Rackspace overcomes these objections by offering a “fanatical level of support.”
“Rackspace is not cheap,” Wilbanks said. “But we provide support that others do not.”
Which may explain why Rackspace has a new deal with Omnicom and a history of success working with GSD+M and others in the agency space.
Wilbanks also said the company’s “Open Stack” initiative is celebrating its one-year anniversary. With Open Stack–where Rackspace is freely providing its framework for all to see, learn from and share–a company can build their own cloud internally. Before Open Stack, Wilbanks explained, it would be difficult for a company to develop in the cloud and then bring the project back inside (for regulatory or client-based reasons).
I asked him why giving away “the store” makes business sense for Rackspace. Wilbanks said, “Fanatical support is our specialty and the reason why clients come to us.” In other words, the magic is not in the servers, it’s in the service. “Anybody can rent some servers,” he reasoned, but managed services is a different game.