Much of the activity, although not all, ties to the COVID-19 pandemic and brings opportunity to partners.
Rackspace and Microsoft are making separate moves with their cloud approaches, and both benefit partners. Rackspace’s strategy has evolved out of a need to help during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while Microsoft’s new initiative looks ahead five years, it also offers immediate economic assistance as the coronavirus has shut down businesses worldwide.
Rackspace partners are rolling out free technology as enterprises navigate the coronavirus pandemic.
Lisa McLin, Rackspace’s channel chief, said the managed cloud computing company is doing its part to help during COVID-19. To that end, Rackspace has invested $10 million so it may provide OpenStack Public Cloud hosting resources at no cost to organizations helping with COVID-19 response efforts. The offer covers the next six months.
Rackspace also is letting MSPs, VARs and other partners deploy Microsoft Teams to Office 365 users, for free, for six months “so business stays afloat,” McLin told Channel Futures.
“Microsoft Teams and our OpenStack are the two tools that our partners have to help customers,” McLin said. “There’s no commission, but it’s a way of finding free opportunities. Partners are looking at long-term relationships and this is the goodwill they provide.”
Other products, however, are still a revenue-generator for partners. Those include Microsoft’s Work Anywhere platform, data center management, and cloud optimization and performance. Partners are especially seeing success with the latter two services, McLin said.
“The pandemic is pushing customers into the cloud faster than predicted,” she said. “Cost-cutting measures are key topics we’re hearing quite a bit.”
Organizations are looking to a mix of public and private clouds, McLin said. That shouldn’t surprise partners. Hybrid cloud is outpacing public- or private-cloud-only configurations.
For now, the Rackspace professional services team is helping partners conduct all implementation work remotely.
As for partner enablement during COVID-19, Rackspace has developed additional training sessions and webinars, all delivered over the internet. The materials include identifiers that indicate a customer makes the right fit for a certain product, as well as “battlecards” describing the value proposition of each service.
“As we continue to make sure the solutions that we’re focusing on service our customers, we will always have partners top of mind as well,” McLin said. “We don’t know what COVID will continue to look like and what customers will need. So when that happens, we’ll make sure we pull in resellers and partners and give them opportunities to serve their customers.”
The Redmond, Washington-based software giant said late last week it will funnel $1.5 billion over five years in Italy. The money will fund access to local cloud services, create a new data center region in Milan so enterprises may use Microsoft Azure and its tools, launch smart-working programs and more.
This is the second iteration of Microsoft and Italy’s “Ambizione Italia”; the company and the country first started working together two years ago.
Microsoft on May 8 cited joint research conducted by Politecnico di Milano School of Management and Microsoft Italia. That research indicates the new data center region may generate more than 10,000 job-related opportunities. It also could help create an estimated $9 billion in direct and indirect business impact by the end of 2024. The forecast encompassed data center construction and operations as well as opportunities for businesses and the technology ecosystem.
Microsoft’s investment announcement comes as Italy emerges from COVID-19-imposed lockdown restrictions. The country remains the hardest hit by the virus in Europe.
“In this time of change, it is important to create private and public collaboration and join forces among companies,” said Silvia Candiani, general manager, Microsoft Italy. “This plan creates a platform for growth for millions of Italians. The new data center region will provide intelligent and secure services, and we will continue to partner with our customers to reimagine their business models, creating more innovative companies.”
Channel partners will be key to helping bring much of the strategy to fruition, Microsoft said.
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