You actually want to move to the cloud: what does that actually mean?

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Tyler Goodlett (Director of Sales) and Steve Mills (VP of Americas) offer key insights into the managed cloud and datacenter ecosystem that exists at Rackspace. They explain at length the tangible advantages behind a migration to a hybrid or multi-cloud environment.

Episode Transcript:

INTRO: [00:00] Welcome to the Tech Deep Dive podcast, where we let our inner nerd come out and have fun getting into the weeds on all things tech. At Clarksys, we believe tech should make your life better, searching Google is a waste of time, and the right vendor is often one you haven’t heard of before. 

Max: [00.18] Hi I’m Max Clark and I’m talking with Steve Mills who is the Senior Vice President and GM of the Americas for Rackspace Technology, and Tyler Goodlett, who is the Senior Director of Sales… Guys, thanks for joining!

Steve: [00.28] Good morning Max, thank you, thanks for having us.

Max: [00.32] Steve, I’m sorry, I have to out you here for a little bit; your LinkedIn says that you started with Rackspace in 2006 as an intern, and then you left and worked in help desk for a little bit over a year, and in the fourteen years since then you have worked yourself up to running the Americas for Rackspace… That is a heck of a haul!

Steve: [00.53] Yeah, and there certainly was that little gap between being an intern and full time, so in between that little stint, I was actually a cook at a Greek food place called Dimos, so… It’s a pretty interesting tale indeed.

Max: [01.07] And Tyler, you’re not in much better shape, you’ve been with Rackspace for about ten years now, right?

Tyler: [01.11] Yeah, funny enough Steve and I actually went through the two week sales onboarding training together, that we had many, many moons ago. The program has now moved to about four months, but Steve and I were expected to learn it in two, so it was a really unique experience to get to go do that together. 

Max: [01.30] So this is something that has always struck me. If you’ve ever done a Zoom with somebody at Rackspace, I mean there’s banners hanging behind people’s desks, five years, ten years, fifteen years, twenty years, twenty five — And it’s not an atypical story for Rackspace, Rackspace really does retain staff for a really, really long time, and that is really atypical in the tech space in general and in sales even more so.

Steve: [01.54] That’s right, yeah, well I would say it’s probably… We call ourselves Rackers, we always will, Tyler and I – I guess we would be considered old school at this point, given our tenure, but there’s people that have been there for twenty years. There’s folks that are ex-Rackers that we still celebrate the same way. Our founders, Graham West and et cetera that have just stayed with it the whole time… But, how we manage the culture, how we think about retaining top talent, I mean that’s all core to what we do, and it’s one of the most fun parts about working there. Yeah, we love celebrating the flags and every milestone that goes with it. 

Max: [02.32] And Rackspace right now is going through a period of reinvention as well, so the  company started as a dedicated server – what we call bare metal nowadays – dedicated server company and got really good at scaling and bringing equipment online and managing equipment for companies, and really this shift… I mean, I don’t know exactly where the flag is in the sand, but two, three years ago it became this pretty big shift into public cloud and this concept of hybrid cloud, I mean what — how did that transition come about, and what has that looked like over the last x years?

Steve: [03.06] Yeah, it’s a good question and so, you know, I started in 2006 – I’ll kind of give you the quick history lesson in how we think about the company transforming itself, what drives us, why we do it, but… So, I joined in 2006, tail end of the start-up days, right before we did our IPO originally in 2008, and so there was, you know – at that time for us, a primary focus around managing hosting a tier point, right? Bare metal servers, managed out of our datacenter, and the big, sort of revolutionary part of our offer and what became the core fanatical experience, as we still call it today, was that we would manage all the way up to the application tier for customers. So, we could get servers online, bare metal, faster than anyone at the time, and we offered more service. That carried us from a growth perspective for effectively a decade. It was going, you know, extremely well. Obviously the emergence of public cloud technology providers like AWS and others created a little bit of competition at the time, until we sort of had I think this — and I can remember the point in time where we created OpenStack, which was our own competitive public cloud offer — we still in fact are managing the largest OpenStack public cloud still to this day, but there was this secular moment where we realized that… Customers actually really want hybrids, right? They want choice, and that’s what we were calling it at the time. It was bare metal, private cloud with Rackspace, plus our public cloud offering together. For customers, that allowed us to take a very nice workload-driven approach, et cetera. But when AWS, to my other point, and others started popping up, we realized, “Hey, this is just another great cloud technology, we’re never going to be able to innovate from a product standpoint, the features, etc, as fast as they are, but our customers want to adopt it, they want to leverage it for other workloads,” and that sort of put us down the path of multi-cloud, as we think about it today. Ultimately, in the end we’re always going to be a services partner for our customers, and we’re always going to look at the various parts of our partner ecosystem and the different parts of the multi-cloud or hyper cloud or portfolio as just options for our customers, and we try to help advise them on which workloads go best where, and take that very unbiased approach, so… I have a feeling we’ll stay down that path of transformation for many years as we evolve with our customers. 

Max: [05.29] You said something just knowing that was, I think the key to this whole story, which is… Managing the infrastructure for the customer up to the application stack. Most companies now – and especially since the cloud has become so popular – care less and less about the physical infrastructure. I mean, some people still get into the dialogue of wanting to fill in the blanks service model spec, but when it really comes down to it, most people just say, “I have this application, I need to run this application, I need it to be available for my employees, my customers, my staff, whatever it is, and I don’t really care what it’s running on, just make it work, and make sure it works all the time.” And that commoditization of infrastructure happened in the server world and even in the network space some time ago, and it really also — you know, it’s moving forward also into the public cloud, the hyperscale environments as well. And, it’s a good story — I mean, do people really care if they’re in AWS or GCP or Azure? I mean, to some degree yes, but to some degrees is that really the center of conversation? “I have this application and I need it to work, can you make it work for me?” 

Steve: [06.32] Right. Yeah, I think it’s interesting, it shifts I think a little bit, and kind of goes through cycles, but I will say more and more I’m hearing customers talk about app portability, I want to just be able to make sure it’s up and running, make sure that it can scale, make sure that’s secure, it’s much more focused on what outcome am I trying to deliver? Now, there’s certainly different areas of where economics play in, right, and you can see different outcomes depending on where you choose to place your application or your data, but generally speaking, I think it’s a workload by workload discussion. There’s obviously many companies that are born in the cloud, start cloud-native day one and are leveraging more advanced techniques around containers, serverless and can truly distribute their application wherever they want it to go, and they can move it quickly, you know, build it up, tear it down, et cetera, but there’s many customers that are still balancing… How do I get to that with this big legacy footprint? Do I — when I say transform, do I mean I’m gonna lift and shift it, am I going to refactor it, am I going to sunset it, and so it really is more of a workload by workload case, but… Yeah, I think you’re spot on. I think the concept of where you’re actually hosted matters a lot less nowadays, it’s more about what outcomes are you driving?

Max: [07.48] App portability seems like, for most people, it’s a goal – it’d be nice to be able to say, “Hey, we have app portability and we can instantaneously migrate from this environment to this other environment.” In practice, I feel like that is a rare unicorn in the world. Not many people can really affect and say — but I mean, it’s true right? Look at the amount of infrastructure that runs in a single region or a single availability zone on a public cloud today. I mean, that is the normal environment where most people are constrained into a single AZ and a single region. Let alone being able to say, “Hey, I can dynamically shift workload between this cloud, that cloud, my own physical environment,” I mean, that’s a future state that a lot of places haven’t quite achieved yet.

Steve: [08.27] One of the — you know Max, not to interrupt you, but one of the things I think that this pandemic has really helped to accelerate is obviously the adoption of cloud, work remote, all those things that we’ve seen, but that conversation has become the forefront of the majority of the conversations that we’re having with customers today. It’s “How can you give me that flexibility, what professional services can you provide to help us be in that position, to move workloads when necessary, to move workloads based on financial decisions,” or whatever the case may be. And so, you’re really starting to see that accelerate, which has been, you know, kind of refreshing to be in some of those conversations.

Max: [09.03] But it’s not — I mean, this isn’t a like, “Hey, I’ve just decided tomorrow that I want to move from Amazon to Google,” I mean, it could be from Google to Amazon, I mean, there’s lots of permutations of this thing, this grid becomes very complex very quickly, right? So it’s not just saying, “Hey, I want to move from vendor A to vendor B tomorrow,” I mean there’s a lot that goes into this and this is something that Rackspace does help people with, and figure out, “Hey you should be here, you should be over here instead, you have this goal that you’re trying to get to,” so I mean, how much of that conversation is driven by technology and how much is driven by the CFO and the financial realities of running these applications now?

Steve: [09.41] Yeah, that’s a really good question, and to go back to the prior point though for a second, I think app portability is certainly more the dream than the reality, and I think it’s more like apps, right, plural, for many of our customers, and I think that’s really an important nuance, especially as we think about the other side of your question, which is: is it technology driving the decision or is it business driving the decision and how realistic is it to manage through that? One, I would say, and Tyler I’d love to hear your opinion after working with a lot of customers and partners, but I feel like it’s more of a CFO, the CIO — CEO, rather — that’s driving a lot of that decision nowadays, and it’s, you know right now with COVID – to Tyler’s point – it’s more about, I need to get there to save cost, to drive this outcome, to be able to spin up this new type of business model so that we can react to the world differently, and that’s a great catalyst, but ultimately you can’t have one without the other. You always have to marry it back to a technology discussion, because there’s so many dependencies, you know, and even if it were, “Hey, I want to move from AWS to GCP,” just even mapping out the migration and understanding all of the dependencies that go into it, just that one aspect is very challenging, and so enter Rackspace, right? To your point, that is what we focus on with our customers, is not only to help them understand what the options are, but to provide that – and I’ll say it again – that unbiased advice around what is the right outcome, which workload should go where, and ultimately, how do we, you know, drive whatever outcome you’re looking for, whether its… I want to be more flexible and more agile in my deployment model, or I actually want to install a true DevOps framework, start building a CI/CD pipeline, et cetera, or as simple as, I just need to save money. I mean, all of those are typical conversation starters and where it goes, it really depends, customer by customer. But, we do have a pretty good view and playbook around it.

Max: [11.36] I feel like anybody who has been involved with tech for a long time, there’s a sense of like, “Oh, there’s this new, shiny thing out there and it has benefits for our business and we can improve operations with it,” and taking that and bringing that into an organization is reflected on… You just want the new, shiny toy, this isn’t — we’re not going to do it. And that’s why I was asking, what else actually drives these things, because a cloud migration – there’s a lot of pieces that go into these things. I mean nowadays, we talk about how datacenter to cloud migrations are relatively… I don’t want to say easier, but it usually is — the time one is more specific… “Hey, we have a contract that’s expiring, we have equipment that’s aging out,” you have some kind of event that’s driving the shift now, beyond just a financial conversation of trying to switch from a capex to an opex, or this to a that, or these sorts of things, it’s more of a… “Hey, if we don’t do this by this date, our contract renews and we’re stuck again for however many years,” and when you talk about, you know, in the public cloud space, you know the equivalent of that is reserved instances, or maybe you’re on some sort of agreement, a discount program with the cloud provider itself, but that migration process – especially at scale – this is not a simplistic thing, I mean… Six months, nine months, a year, year plus worth of migration projects that come into it. That also is very expensive, I mean running two at the same time is not a cheap endeavour. You have to have a lot of will with the organization, from a lot of different places in the organization to actually affect this change.

Steve: [13.07] Right. 

Max: [13.08] How does Rackspace — I mean, how do you help with this? How do you walk a customer through this process of, “Hey, I suddenly woke up one day and said we should go to multi cloud or we should go to this other cloud,” what does that really look like in terms of your engagement and the actual process of going up into the actual — we’re going to make this decision to do it, and then after the decision to do it?

Steve: [13.33] Yeah, maybe I’ll answer the first part here and then let Tyler jump in with maybe some real world customer experiences that he’s had recently. You know, if I just take it from the top, right? The most common conversation we start with is, “I need to move to the cloud,” right? Everyone has this strategic imperative that they have to get there if they’re not already there, and for those that aren’t already there, I think the reality is they’ve just realized that they’re so far behind market, they’re losing competitive foothold, by being stuck in a datacenter, in a colo-facility, whatever the case may be, right? That’s a mentality shift, that I think has been happening for quite some time, but you know, when we actually get into, “Okay, you actually want to move to the cloud,” what does that actually mean? There’s so many versions of what cloud adoption looks like, and it’s not an endpoint, it’s the most important thing that we have to stress to our customers, to anyone that we’re helping. It truly is – and I hate to use a jargon phrase – but it really is a journey, right? There’s really no start or stop if you’re doing it the right way, because it’s about continuous improvement over time, and that’s one of our pillars that we focus on with customers, is, “Okay, you want to get to the cloud, you think that AWS is the right option because that’s what your board talks about, that’s what your buddies talk about, that’s what your team talks about, but let’s actually unpack that, let’s take a look at what workloads you have today, what are the requirements, how do you think about security, do you want to be multi-AZ, does that work for you from a cost perspective or is there some scenario where you step your way into it by moving to, let’s say private cloud first, and then have a portion that’s hybrid, connected out to the cloud,” and so on, and so forth. But, that’s just my view in terms of… One, I think that if our customers haven’t already started making the move, they’re way behind, and I think COVID has made that even more apparent for most folks that are in that camp, let’s say. And then the get to the cloud part, you really have to unpack it, because there’s not a one size fits all, there’s not a predetermined destination that makes the most sense, but Tyler, what’s your take and what are you hearing from customers as you walk them through our time-tested model?

Tyler: [15.40] Yeah, I think the thing that I find most unique, and really it’s COVID I think sent it to the stratosphere but I think it’s been going on for some time, but you see the push from top-down, rather than bottom-up for technology, I think is very unique, but I think it’s also put a lot of pressure on the technical folks, right, to deliver on these projects, keep businesses running, and so as we get into these conversations, the unique piece about Rackspace is that we really have to suffice two groups, right? We have to satisfy the business buyer; we have to talk to them about what the journey is actually going to look like, what the milestones are, what the financials are going to be, when are you going to be experiencing a double bubble versus when you’re not? You know, when is the professional services statement of work going to hit? When are you going to have a cash outlay – all of these things that they care about, right? So, there’s always the track of making sure that you can tie off with them from a financial perspective, to make them comfortable with the path you’re going to take them on. And then secondarily to that, there’s the actual, real-life work, as I call it, but the actual technical track, and it’s making sure that you have all the right players on both sides of the fence, committed to different timelines, committed to delivering on certain milestones, being able to test, being able to migrate on time, making sure that we have cutover dates identified, all of the things that matter while we manage two contracts expiring and auto-renewal contracts. And so, the depth of the conversation has dramatically changed, right, to the point where we know as a customer wants to move, for example, to a multi-cloud strategy or whatever they’re end state is, we’re looking at what are their current contracts in place, when do they expire, what are the ETFs associated with it? So it’s a holistic view that you have to be able to tell the story to two really different audiences to really be successful and for the customer to have confidence in your ability to deliver. And so I would say that’s one of the things that’s most unique, it’s just the level at which we’re working with our customers nowadays, is very different than it ever was. 

Max: [17.41] And something that I’ve seen Rackspace do with customers, is help them – let’s call it financially engineer these migrations, because there is a significant financial commitment and component to these things, and actually, can you talk about that a little bit, and what that entails and what people see with this? I think that is a very interesting aspect of what this is.

Steve: [18.02] Yeah, that’s a great point to focus on and I was actually going to dovetail off to something that Tyler had mentioned as well, which is… One, it is a very detailed and in-depth conversation, it is one that is fraught with, I don’t know who’s UNINTELLIGIBLE 18.15 of that along the way, and we see that every signal today. So one, when it gets down to something really important like financial modelling, we can actually manage that extremely efficiently for our customers. So, one, we can build the model for them, really go through the paces of understanding: is it going to produce the outcomes you’re looking for, where are the overlapping fees, et cetera? And on our side, because we have so much muscle memory around being able to actually help customers walk through that, we’ve built our model in a way where we can be creative, very flexible with our customer, so… As an example, we can actually build in, you know, migration time, ramp schedule, schedules, things of that nature, within the agreement to actually help customers completely avoid the double bubble cost that goes into the actual migration. That’s one example. On our professional services engagements, depending on which model, we actually land on what the scope looks like, we could get really creatively in terms of having, you know, those expenses sit later, that’s modelled in, but generally speaking I can’t think of a scenario with a customer, especially within the last year, year and a half, where we haven’t been able to financially engineer – to your point, Max – a situation where they can make the move without any overlapping cost or without the savings realized within one to two years of everything that we’ve modelled out. I think we’ve really dialled in how we think about it, and I think we’ve really got ourselves and our customers into a situation where they have optionality, one, and because we’re such a large partner with AWS and Google and Microsoft and Dell and VMware, and all the major technology providers behind our services offering, we have good leverage, we can help them really navigate getting into the best financial outcome really quickly, no matter who we’re leveraging behind the scenes. 

Max: [20.08] Going multi-cloud, I mean from a technology standpoint it requires you to be somewhat not bought into that cloud managed services ecosystem, right? You can’t be too into their native databases or columnar storage, or — there’s certain requirements that go into it. What I do see a lot is I see application workloads all of a sudden shift, you know? Data analytics, data warehousing, machine learning, all of a sudden there’s like this carve out that happens like, “Oh, this thing should go over here,” and boom, it goes. And that’s something else that you guys help people with understanding, like, “Hey, you’ve got this exercise running, and it’s doing X-Y-Z and it should really run over here.” So, not necessarily — I think people hear multi-cloud sometimes and think, “We’re going to run the same application in multiple places at the same time,” but that’s not what multi-cloud really is for most people, right?

Steve: [20.54] Yeah, no. I mean, there may be a multi-cloud DR scenario, right, disaster recovery, where you don’t want to have it on both cloud providers, as an example. So, there’s some decisionality that goes along those lines. When we describe multi-cloud, it’s really… If you think about fully-packaged workloads, right: all the RAM, compute, storage, data apps, security, as an example, however you want to classify a workload package together, workload one may be on AWS because that’s the right fit, workload two might be on Google, workload three might be on bare metal, leveraging Kubernetes, right? We always have to think about it that way and talk about it that way because people do genuinely get a little confused, right? It could be, “Hey, why would I have my application running on every single platform simultaneously,” and usually that’s not actually the best outcome. At least, from an experience or a technology standpoint. But real quick, one thing I do want to comment on Max, one of the first points of advice that customers are… At the point where they’re adopting any cloud provider, we do give that advice of avoiding those highly proprietary, managed service offerings, right? It just leads to lock-in that’s hard to unwind later, or you could think about it in terms of technical debt, but if you inherently don’t want to choose a single platform and stick with it forever, then generally it’s best to avoid that if you can.

Max: [22.20] Yes, and they also get very expensive, very fast I think. 

Steve: [22.22] That’s always the trick with it, right?

Max: [22.24] Let’s segue for a second, because of that… Running in the public clouds gets very expensive, very quickly. I mean this is not — I think for most companies when they look at these things, the reality of the migration isn’t necessarily cheaper than what they had beforehand. It’s not — and cloud’s not about it’s going to be cheaper for you than what you… So, as a service provider, and as a partner helping a company through this journey, how do you explain that and talk people through this transition of what they’re actually in for and what they need to prepare for? Because it’s also, by the way, it’s not just bout this might cost you more money when you get rid of your data centers, it’s also about, “Hey, you have to be really careful how you configure this thing, because if you’re not you could have some surprises when your bill comes at the end of the month,” and we have to make sure they’re ready for that and they’re prepared for that, and they’re also doing things to prevent that from happening. How do you help people with that?

Steve: [23.19] Yeah, it’s definitely not an easy conversation, to be honest with you, because it is so nuanced, but it is very common for people to think, you know, moving to the cloud is synonymous with, I’m going to save money, by default. It really just doesn’t work that way. One, if you’re just doing a pure lift and shift and you’re not running a truly digital native, cloud native workload or approach, you’re just not going to see all of the benefits you want in any respect, right? The cloud is not inherently meant to operate just like a standard, traditional data center operation might look, right? So, if you’re not spinning up, spinning down, using a full DevOps framework, going to containers or serverless, you’re going to miss all of those potential savings opportunities which, by the way, it’s not all about savings, it’s about making sure you’re leveraging this agile, scalable, highly standardized framework to actually leverage all parts of your application hosting needs, you know, on a bite-sized kind of basis, right? So that’s where… I need more compute, great, you have to spin up but you have to spin back down otherwise you’ll never see the benefit. But, it’s pretty common Max, and we’re seeing a pretty big resurgence of people actually, that made the big run to the cloud several years ago actually saying, “Hey, we want to repatriate back to private cloud,” because that realize that technology has caught up enough to  give a cloud-like experience out of a much more manageable… Cost, one and two, more predictable models, right? I think that’s really the big surprise people find is, it’s so easy to overprovision, overspend, not maximize the benefits of the cloud, and you get that bill three, four, five months in, and literally have a panic attack, right, because it’s actually two times, three times the cost of where you were before without anyone really understanding that it was coming.

MID-ROLL: [25.14] Hi I’m Max Clark and you’re listening to the Tech Deep Dive podcast. At Clarksys we believe tech should make your life better, searching Google is a waste of time, and the right vendor is often one you haven’t heard of before. With thousands of negotiated contracts, Clarksys has helped hundreds of businesses source and implement the right tech at the right price. If you’re looking for a new vendor and want to have peace of mind knowing you’ve made the right decision, visit us at Clarksys.com to schedule an intro call.

Max: [25.37] There is a very specific alignment that has to be in place for order for hybrid cloud, and really what we’re talking about in hybrid cloud right is the combination of a public cloud with some sort of private infrastructure for a customer, and whether that’s dedicated servers, bare metal, some sort of cloud platform, Kubernetes… I mean, that really all encompasses this idea of hybrid cloud. So, you do need to have a pretty… There is an intersection of size and scale and cost and capacity, and all these things that have to kind of get stirred up together, and then you know, you’re a good candidate for hybrid cloud. The conversation around hybrid cloud, it’s always interesting to me, is when you explain the outcome in terms of the cost differential from being in a public cloud to a hybrid cloud, I think a lot of people think that you’re lying to them, when you actually break down the numbers, because it is a striking difference. I mean, it’s not like you’re saving ten percent or twenty percent, we’re talking massive differences in what the actual effect of monthly cash flow is for that company. I mean, how do you walk into that conversation, and what are people actually, you know, what’s normal now with Rackspace, in Rackspace’s world of expectations of, we’re going to move something out of this cloud vendor and put it into a private cloud environment for a customer, and what that could actually mean for them?

Steve: [26.57] Yeah, it is always a bit funny, because there are strong reactions when you come in and say, “No, the savings could be as much as thirty, forty… I mean, in one of the more recent examples, Tyler and I are actually both partnering with this particular client, we’re talking closer to sixty percent, right? I mean it can be very, very dramatic in some cases, and it’s hard I think for folks to wrap their heads around it, right? The whole point of moving to the cloud was more flexible, better savings, better outcome, and then we come in and say, “Hey, by the way, have you thought about private cloud, hybrid cloud, you could save thirty, forty, fifty percent?” What does that actually mean? I just — I thought we were moving the other way, and the reality is, it’s just how the technology operates, it’s about how we can manage the cost, certainly the market is dictating that everyone needs to be competitive, right? Cloud is fully commoditizing, no matter which version you’re talking about, right? Certainly you have folks that focus more on the enterprise side, and maybe they have different feature sets and so forth, but the reality is, computers are computers, RAM is RAM, and storage is storage in the end, right? And everyone’s going to be racing to get to normality. What we see and why we focus on the services side of that, is helping customers actually leverage what they can in the best way, but the easiest way to make it all connect Max, is just to put the numbers in front of them, show them the side by side comparison, and then it pretty quickly clicks at that point.

Max: [28.26] I mean, there’s a lot that goes into affecting a multi-cloud or a hybrid cloud strategy, your application has to be ready for it. I mean, you talk about containers, containers are great for these sorts of things. You can’t be leveraged in on, you know, those managed infrastructure pieces, and proprietary databases… I mean, there’s a lot that goes into it and this is something that Rackspace is helping people understand, and work towards, of like, “Okay, you have this application that has this X-Y-Z thing, and Rackspace has made a lot of acquisitions in this space in the last couple of years,” putting yourself in the position to be able to say, “Okay, hey, we can help you modify this application to do what you need it to do in order to be more malleable, or you know, in the future.” The other part of it is cost structures around public cloud versus private cloud, it’s not just about computers, there’s this little thing called bandwidth which takes people by surprise, right? I mean, you’ve seen this a lot – you don’t really realize, “Oh, I’ve got x petabytes of egress coming out of the cloud and what does it actually mean for me in real dollars,” versus, “Let’s just move that somewhere else,” and it’s not necessarily saying, “Hey, we’re gonna to save you a fortune on your compute costs,” it’s just all of a sudden your bandwidth cost normalizes.

Steve: [29.34] You know, I’m actually glad you brought that up, see I even forgot and we’ve been talking about this and I talk about it every day. It is one of those little, you know, small but very large things that people don’t even think about, and that’s something to note with any customer that we talk to, and that could be the make it or break it moment of actually looking at a hybrid cloud scenario, versus fully moving to private cloud, or hey in some cases, maybe just keep it where it’s at, and we’ll come in and help you optimize, right? Those could all be various conversation points, but the reality is, you’re connecting, let’s say to a Rackspace private cloud solution, and you’re also leveraging AWS and you’re not mindful about that cross-traffic, which is your hub point actually to push egress to the world, it can get up there pretty quickly, and well… What we’ve actually gotten into the practise of doing, is actually analyzing that for customers, and in some cases just leveraging us for the backend, the really heavy workloads like databases and what have you, you actually get really good economics around that on a bare metal or private cloud solution, and in some cases you can leave the rest on the public cloud side, and it works well, and if you have the right volumes and the right deal structure, you can get good rates there, and if not, we flip it the other way and our side at least, we can get extremely attractive rates on all of our different geographies with customers, because bandwidth to us, it’s the cost of doing business, but it’s not something that we try to take points of margin on. We effectively provide it at cost to customers, especially if we’re looking at multi-petabyte deployments, that’s one way to think about it. So, it’s always a little interesting, but it is one of those ones that if you’re not careful, it can sneak up on you. 

Max: [31.15] To paraphrase something you said earlier, there’s no right answer for a company. I mean, there really isn’t a right answer, it’s just a… This is the best answer with what you’ve given us in terms of input, and this kind of gets spit out, and in six months the answer might change, and a year from then it might change again, and six months later it might change again, so it’s… The name of the game really now is about, you know, flexibility, and being able to adapt — who can adapt fastest as time changes and as their business evolves, and Rackspace, because you’re cloud agnostic… I mean, you really don’t care at this point if somebody is in a public cloud or if they’re in your private cloud. That’s a really big change for Rackspace, you used to be, “Okay, we want you in our data centers,” and now it’s “We don’t care if you’re not in our data centers anymore. We’d love it if you were in our data centers, but you don’t have to be in our data centers to be our customers.” That’s a pretty big shift and that also shows where you guys are in the market and how you’ve evolved with the market. 

Tyler: [32.18] Yeah, one of the other points that’s unique and that our customers you know, really do love the deeper they dig in with Rackspace and the further they partner with us… Not only do we not care necessarily where the workload resides, we want what’s best for the customer, both from a technical and a financial perspective, but we also give you flexibility. We know what works today isn’t going to work in six months, or it may be different in six months, the business drivers may be different, and so we want to make sure that customers feel comfortable moving forward with Rackspace as a partner, knowing that what we want is what’s best for the workload regardless of where that is, so there’s just an inherent flexibility within you know, the Rackspace agreements, there’s flexibility within how the customer success teams monitor the environment to make sure you’re getting more bang for your buck, that things are being right-sized, you know… We look at every component, from a switch or a firewall down to storage, on a monthly basis with our customers, to look at, you know, how much headroom is there, what is the performance like, is it overkill, where can we right-size, how can we help save money for you all? And so, that’s one of the things I find very unique about Rackspace: that mentality to be that partner that continually changes, continually drives transformation to customers, and it’s something that is unique in the space, right? I think the other thing I find is an interesting conversation with customers quite often is, when we do get a customer that is ready to go all in with the hyper scale cloud vendor, maybe they’re coming off the Rackspace private cloud or whatever the case may be, they’re usually very surprised that our recommendation is not to sign a large commitment with an AWS or a GCP, as an example, out of the gate. We actually ask the  customer to run for a year on top of the environment, and let us really work with them to right-size, migrate and make sure they’re taking advantage of things before we commit to a large contract, long-term. To your point Max, you know, it’s very easy to get locked in, and there’s always growth initiatives in those long-term contracts with the hyperscalers, and some folks are on trajectory to hit it, and maybe losing one customer may throw them off completely, right? What we want to do is make sure that we put customers in a place to be successful, you know, financially and technically, and so that’s another area where we really take a methodical approach into how we push a customer, how we help them move workloads to the hyperscalers, both from technical perspective and then as well as commercial, right? I think that’s as important as the other pieces as well. 

Steve: [34.44] What I would say there, because you’re bringing up what is probably the most important point and if you go all the way back to your first question of this session which was, how is Rackspace transforming itself, how will we continue to stay ahead of that with the customers… The only thing in the end that we care about, and you know, call it obsession, call it we’re just really weird and we’ve just always done it since day one, is fanatical experience, which is putting our customers first. So, that’s the only outcome that we care about  that we’re building the right outcome or outcomes plural for them, depending on what we’re solving for, but that’s our loyalty. When we do that well, we have customers that stay loyal to us, stay with us for many, many years, and we help them go through all of those different cycles of technology adoption and, guess what, three months, six months, six years from now, it’s all going to look completely different. Our approach will always be the advisory services that we provide. So if I take a step back, that’s what matters most; taking care of our customers first. But, we’ve sort of broken what is basically this really complicated multi-cloud world, into I would say four primary solution buckets on our side, and these are the four pillars and we continue to try and simplify this more and more over time, but we’re multi-cloud experts, so anything that falls into that bucket, whether it’s public, private, hybrid, your datacenter, our datacenter, colocation, anywhere in the world falls into that. Then we get into apps, data and security, and each of those takes the value of our offerings further and further and further up the stack. We could do recurring managed services, we could scale that up and down, we can offer professional services, whether it’s migration, staff augmentation, coming in and doing really smart technical center of excellence type stuff, helping customers get to app portability… All of those are the types of things we do with our customers, and the whole point is to be more flexible and to be more agile than… Really, there aren’t a ton of competitors in the way that I classify Rackspace, I think still in the market we’re the largest peer-played, multi-cloud solutions provider, right? There’s just not a lot of people that can say they really, truly play in the space, maybe bits and pieces and I think what customers appreciate about our approach is one, not only that we’re there for them and as the only outcome, but two, because we’re so focused on being able to navigate the rest of it. We simplify that for them, and they like that they don’t have to go out and get one partner for one piece, then somebody for the next, then somebody for the next… I think frankly Max, that’s why it’s been great for us partnering with you. You understand that, you take that same philosophical approach with your customers, and together I think we pretty much cover most of what they’re trying to navigate, if not all of it, right? 

Max: [37.25] Yeah, and Tyler talked about flexibility in agreements, and this also comes into spend reallocation. And this is also something that Rackspace is very good about, in terms of if you’ve decided to want to shift from public cloud to private cloud, private cloud to public cloud, the cloud A versus cloud B versus cloud C, whatever these different things are… I mean, you do help. So, let’s talk about how you help people make those shifts and what that actually means to you in terms of like a contract structure with Rackspace. Like, when I sign the contract with you guys, it’s not just like, “Hey, you’re committing to this box in this facility,” I mean…

Steve: [38.04] Yeah, I would say, you know, think about it in terms of committing to a relationship, first and foremost, that’s how we think about it. So, if we’re starting with one or two or five platforms, you know from a technology standpoint day one, it matters less to us. Generally, you know, if you get back to the nitty gritty of how we actually model, we do expect customers to stay on whatever they start with for some period of time, although you know, contractually we don’t require it, it’s just common sense that you don’t want to migrate every six months, right? That’s not an enjoyable experience –

Max: [38.38] Sorry, I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

Steve: [38.40] Yeah! Exactly! Yeah, so providing that commercial flexibility, we actually have those words in our contract that allow customers to make those changes, and in fact we’ll help them spot them proactively as time goes on. We don’t want to limit ourselves from being able to contractually make those decisions so that we can operationally deliver, and that’s the simple reality. You know, if we actually got into a standard engagement, we’ll come in from a pre-sales perspective, and we have all of the right  resources to provide eighty percent of the guidance, if not a hundred percent for our customers in most cases, but let’s say we have to get down to a very detailed analysis, we need to really figure out, one, are you ready to move to the cloud or are we making the right decisions? We Actually have a formal program, it’s a cloud readiness assessment, where we can come in, do the full inventory of mapping every single workload, every single asset, you know, whether it’s on the application side, datacenter blueprint mapping, et cetera… We can do all that, figure out the dependencies, figure out which ones can move as is, should be, you know, refactored… In some cases, we make recommendations to actually let them sense out where they’re at, depending on where the long term view is. Just as one example, that takes us probably a week, depending on customer time needed to work with us, and we use a mix of tools, we use a mix of our experts that actually will go and do interviews with application and BAU stakeholders who may need to be involved, figure all of that out, we’ll come back, and that becomes the framework for the rest of the discussion. After that it’s, “Okay, here’s what we’re advising based on what we’ve seen. We think option one, you know, this is the best fit, purpose fit option to map to everything that we just did, but in some cases –” By the way, if you can hear my toddler in the background, just fair warning, they’re in full force this morning. But you know, once we have that blueprint, then we can make a lot of decisions, and then get into how we actually think about migration? I’ll actually let Tyler jump in while I give a little mute relief on — 

Max: [40.45] No, you know what’s actually fantastic for me about where we are in the world is we’ve had the sense — I’ve had the sense for a long time where technology, we get lost in technology but businesses is about — you know, that we’re people, and you know, so our phrase of it is that tech should make your life better, right? I’ve actually — one of the byproducts of everybody working from home in this pandemic is that there’s a reality of life in people and children are a part of it, and I love it.

Steve: [41.14] I appreciate that.

Max: [41.15] So, part of scale comes down to process, standardization, normalization of operations, these sorts of things, and companies that haven’t gone through this yet… Maybe they’re not in a fully blown ITIL framework yet, you know? I mean, that’s a massive, massive commitment to take a company to get there… Onboarding into Rackspace’s environment, it’s both a positive and a negative I think for a customer going through this experience in the sense that the amount of structure that gets imposed, if you’re not ready for it or if you haven’t had any experience with it — I mean, there is a learning curve to get into a structure, because you are going to go through and you are going to create inventory maps, every piece of everything, where it is, is it tagged properly, is it identified, do we know what it is? And just that exploration, people are finding things, “Oh I forgot about that server that was underneath the stairs for the last decade,” you have it in storage, right? But that process is time-consuming and I know it’s frustrating in some worlds, people are like, “Oh, why can’t you just take everything over?” Well, the answer is we can’t! We have to document it so we know what’s actually running, so you know what’s running as well, and this  goes to another thing which is, you know, a decade ago IT departments in general were way more resistant to having a partner, like a Rackspace, come in and take over — I won’t say take over, but actually augment their operations, and how do you support environments, and I feel like IT departments understand that this is actually good for them now. They want and need this help, because nobody can manage effectively, a private cloud environment, a datacenter and three different cloud vendors at the same time, globally, across — and still take a vacation. I mean, you just can’t. You need somebody that has expertise in those things to actually staff for it appropriately and so, I feel like Rackspace was probably the king of what became known as shadow IT, of you know, marketing departments going out and bringing up their own server infrastructure where they’re managing for it and then the IT department would find out and be really pissed off but at the same time… It’s weird, because IT departments would be upset about it but at the same time, it’s relief: “Man, I don’t have to deal with this thing? Thank God!” And that relationship has shifted a lot for you in the last four years, where I feel like IT is now onboard and fully in on this idea.

Steve: [43.34] Yeah, I think shadow IT will always be a reality that everyone has to deal with, so sorry in advance for all the CIOs out there, we promise we’re not intending to contribute to that. We are no longer considered, from the IT side, a threat or an impedance to what they do – and it goes back to what you just said, Max. It’s not fun to tag everything, to manage the inventory, to think about where workloads should go, to manage not only the complexities of knowing all the different technology pieces that go into it, but the relationships between them and ultimately, when you get down to it, think about every single supplier that uses different contract shifts and negotiate all of them. It really has become such a burden that I think most people are willing to ditch that, and I think it’s important because the shift, I think for IT in a very positive way, has moved from a cost center where we have to go figure out how do we extract every penny we can, and so focused on, you know, chargebacks, show back, managing all of those things just to, you know, drive the outcome that they’re looking for. I think most people have realized that you have to get your IT, you know, your developers, your engineers focused on enabling the business to go drive revenue, to innovate faster, to actually set themselves up to adopt whatever technology more quickly, and so in that sense, I think we’re viewed more as a partner to the IT organization than we ever have been, and it’s because we make their lives easier so they can go focus on supporting the business the way they need to. 

Max: [44.59] Well, I mean shadow IT nowadays, every application is like this shadow IT concept. Slack started out by just going to install it, and then all of a sudden you’ll turn around and you need to do ediscovery, and like, what’s this Slack thing that’s running for x hundred people, like whoops. I mean, we’re also seeing this in a different way, which is companies that were… Let’s call it cloud native, and cross the line and understand that they could go and acquire datacenter space and have an economic reality very different from their cloud – because let’s face it, every cloud application has something that’s running in it all of the time. There’s a certain degree of elasticity within a cloud environment, but there’s a significant portion of that cloud environment that never changes, and those static workloads are, you know, the prime examples of things that maybe shouldn’t necessarily be running in the cloud environment that should be running in some kind of privatized infrastructure, because that’s where you’re going to get the maximum value out of it. So, this epiphany happens, they come off-site, they establish a datacenter relationship, they start putting servers in it, they start buying servers, and then they get down the path and they realize, “Wait, I’ve got five hundred servers colocated somewhere that I now have to manage warranty items on or we have motherboards that are frying out, and hard drives that have to be changed, and now we’ve got —

Steve: [46.11] All of it, right, yeah?

Max: [46.12] – and you get into this like idea, and then it changes, right? So now you’re looking at IT as a logistics entity, are you managing inventory and turning inventory properly, and how do you manage logistics, especially when this datacenter is you know, two thousand miles away from where your actual business is based, and how do you support htat, and this is something else that maybe isn’t really… I would say, the common thought process, but this is what Rackspace does. I mean, you guys manage logistics at scale, globally, for companies very effectively, and it just happens to be in the format of servers and network equipment. And so — but that’s not a typical IT conversation, you don’t talk to an IT department about, “Hey, we’re going to manage your logistics for you,” you talk about different things, and this is something we should talk about a little bit, because this is a big thing! I mean, supporting a datacenter at scale is a very nuanced, specific animal. 

Steve: [47.06] It really is. You know, when you think about scale and you think about how much redundancy, when you think about all the certifications that go into it, when you think about this massive global supply chain, keeping it fully standardized, driving – to your point – ITIL standards globally… I mean, if you’re not used to leveraging ITIL it can be a big risk, but the Rackspace platform, if you want to think about it  this way, we’ve actually spent two decades perfecting it, and we’ve layered in a lot of software and automation that allows us to actually do it, not just at a global scale, but highly efficiently, so much so that we can even manage in our customers own data centers now as well, which has been an interesting deployment model. Max, I know we’ve worked with a few customers on that exact model, and the reality is we can even extend that same experience and all of our massive logistical expertise, to your point, really anywhere they go. And Tyler, I don’t know if you had any other thoughts on that, I know you’re working on our key customer segments, but even though you’re supporting the Americas business, you’re still managing global deployment for your customers and seeing the same results, right?

Tyler: [48.13] Yeah, not only seeing the same results, but seeing the efficiency that we drive for customers. I think so often customers forget about, Max, your point – all the things you brought up from the warranty items, the motherboards, the hard drives, managing inventory, to end of life devices, et cetera, right? That’s areas where we definitely can help, and we can help globally, and you know, one of the most unique things that I love about Rackspace is just the methodology which we deploy, not only servers in a rack, but data centers themselves, and the most unique thing is I could pick up a datacenter technician from our DFW facility and drop them off in Hong Kong, and everything runs identical – everything’s color coded the same, the cards go in the same spot, trash cans are in the same area… I mean, every little thing that you think of – there’s little areas taped off where certain things go, screwdrivers are color coded, power cords are color coded different colors, so it’s extremely unique and then the fact that we run it consistently across the board with such regularity is really a sight to see and I think it’s something that provides a lot of value to customers. It really is the foundation, right, of what we provide, and so it’s been unique to watch us deploy globally as we’ve scaled and grown, but to see that methodology in the DNA of our data centers and in the employees of our data centers, has been really amazing to watch over the years. 

Max: [49.34] And now, Rackspace does something for global customers that I think is awesome, and is not talked about a lot, so I want to talk about this. So, we have a, in the US, we end up with a very US-centric view of the world. Technology, internet, datacenter, cloud, all of this becomes very US-centric. But if you’re not in the US, forget language barriers for a second, if you just talk about the practical, legal and financial impact of being a non-US company, doing business with US companies, that introduces some things. Even if you take away currency exchanges and everything else, and you have to go through VAT…  VAT becomes a big issue for a non-US company, and how they actually manage their infrastructure and how they manage these environments. And Rackspace has global operations, I mean you have places of business outside of the US, it’s also unique in the world where not very many people have gotten to the size and scale where Rackspace is, where you can offer these things, and this makes a big difference for customers, and this changs your engagement story somewhat. So, let’s take the language out of it, let’s talk about the other side, the business aspects of it. Break this down for me, because this becomes a big piece of this puzzle that people miss and gloss over.

Steve: [50.55] Yeah, it’s certainly, you know, I think even if it’s understood at a high level, you know, the nuances and details that go into it certainly do matter, because it is… I mean, just thinking about how you described it, right? Very complicated just tohse items independently and when you put it together it just multiplies, but you know, we are 24/7/365, right? I think that’s pretty commonly known out there. We do fully the sunset in terms of how we think about shift coverage, hand-offs, how we manage these dedicated or named support pods that customers interact with, which is really important. So, I’ll give you an example. We actually have a really large customer of ours, they’re deployed everywhere in the world, and actually truly multi-cloud, so they use private, they use two different public providers, and they still have their own bare metal, that’s still transitioning. And they are using Rackspace for the vast majority of that, but they’re based out of Atlanta, supported primarily by my team for normal business hours, but then there’s very special thing that happens, where we make sure there’s an overlap on the hand-off, we make sure that any ongoing tickets that are being worked on have a good parallel structure to make this seamless from the customer’s perspective. Now, even though they’re based out of Atlanta and most of their operations are here in the US, they do have a UK team, just like we do, they have teams based out of Hong Kong, Australia, and that’s why we were such a good fit for them, is we have a nice, localized presence for all of the major hubs that they care about. So in the UK, they’re serviced by the UK team, anywhere in their Asia Pacific region, it’s primarily Hong Kong and Australia, depending on location, and obviously you have things like currency, things like language, you know, actually having one consistent experience, making sure that we’re mapping all of those into very standardized, cohesive fashion actually really does make a big difference with this customer. They know who to go to for what, they know how we service them, they know it’s going to be the same playbook run globally, and we actually start by creating that runbook together with our customers, it changes and customizes over time, but you know, that’s just one example. They have the same global experience 24/7/365, we follow the sun, but the best part is we can actually tailor that localized experience, because guess what? People in the UK may want to work with somebody in their same time zone, you know, when routed as post-COVID world, be able to walk into the office together, et cetera, and things like data sovereignty et cetera, also make a big difference, right? So customers that have a footprint in Germany want to make sure they’re out of our Frankfurt datacenter, working with the team that’s there locally is one example, right? So, just a couple ways to think about it but there’s so much more that goes into it beyond all that, right?

Max: [53.39] I mean, data sovereignty in itself, right… We could probably spend hours talking about it. This is not a small issue for companies, right? This is significant, and this isn’t even compliance heavy companies, I mean, we’re not talking about UNINTELLIGIBLE 53.52 and healthcare that have a compliance mandate that goes on top of their financial services, this is now the reality of the world. You know, where is your data sitting, what jurisdiction is that data sitting in, do you have customers interacting with your data, where are those customers sitting, and what are the roles that come on top of it? If you’re not ready to deal with that, you’re going to spend a lot of time trying to learn how to deal with those sorts of things, and sometimes going to a partner who is already dealing with this thing at scale globally can just, you know, you can get a big shortcut out of it, you know? We don’t need to figure this thing out, we can go to somebody who has already solved this problem for us.

Steve: [54.24] Yeah, and that’s… Well one, we’re seeing a lot of — and I think it’s intuitive to a certain degree — but we’re seeing a lot of surveys and market analysis that’s suggesting that data sovereignty, data privacy, all of these issues are going to continue to be important, but probably accelerate quite a bit on the heels of COVID and how people will want to localize and kind of rally, if you will, in whatever scenario that might be. So, we’re expecting that to become more important, it’s also one of the major barriers when we’re working with customers on why a single cloud provider might not be the right option, right? They may not have that particular footprint to help from a data sovereignty standpoint, or in some cases if it is a highly regulated industry, just may not be even to some of the compliance measures or keep workloads secure are there, and they’d just not be perceived well by their own customers, by their board, whatever the case there may be, so I think there’s certainly a bit of a perception issue as well. Anyways, we’re keeping a close eye on this trends, and that’s why for me it’s exciting that we have the options that we have for our customers, because we can solve for those in a number of different ways, but you know, if we were single threaded on any particular technology partner on our side, then you know, we would be bound by their constraints, as would our customers. And so, that’s something that we’re extremely mindful of, I guess I would say.

Max: [55.44] And the other thing that I still love about you guys is your ability to take on small customers. You know, and still support, at the very, very small size, a few servers. I mean, you’re still operationalized in support, and this is not something where it’s an afterthought… I mean, the very small startup companies are still a fit for you, and on the other side of it, global companies are still a good fit for you, and that’s also a very difficult thing to do, and to really — and this goes a lot to your heritage and your time in the market. You know, spending twenty-plus years developing these sorts of things, you’ve definitely gone through some pain cycles to get to where you are today.

Steve: [56.27] Yeah, I would say for some of the folks early on, maybe brain damage is a better way to put it… You know, look – we’ve been operating at a global scale for a little over a decade. Our operational excellence teams, I mean you know, our global datacenter as an example is still run by Jim Hopkins, who’s been here as long as I have. You know, keep in mind all the things he’s seen, all the discipline he’s instilled, all of the wiki pages, the guides, the training, you know, the compliance, just from making sure that whether you’re in Hong Kong or whether you’re in DFW, that the cables are done exactly the same way, the same color coding, et cetera. I mean, that level of operational discipline is built into everything we do, and it has given us tremendous scale, just from a process and deployment standpoint. The other part that we actually don’t ever talk about very often Max, is that Rackspace has a ton of software-driven deployment models, we’re software enabled across almost every single thing that we do, and we’re actually in the process of taking this to market from something that’s actually branded, but the Rackspace fabric that we use across everything has been in place for over a decade, and we actually have about sixty — I think the latest stat was sixty-four percent of all support interactions we have with customers are fully automated. So, think about that – the most common tasks that customers may want to do, it could be simple break-fix stuff, it could be based on their runbook issues, or you know, username needs – password needs to be reset, there’s tons and tons and tons of stuff that we’ve been able to automate and it’s literally to put a pretty fun stat out there, it’s about four million transactions per month that we’ve fully automated for our customers, and that’s based on even higher volume of tickets and calls coming in. So, while that it’s really nice that we’ve been able to automate that, what’s most important is that frees up our experts to then spend time on the most strategic and the most complicated scenarios for our customers, and that gives us scale across all segments, and we love all customers, right? Whether you have two servers, two hundred, or two thousand servers, we can manage it all the same, because of this automation, because of this software-driven approach, and this high degree of standardization globally. 

Max: [58.37] When you tell me those stats, I hear two things: I hear time, and I hear money, right? And whenever you’re spending time, you’re spending money, and this affects your margins and it also affects your customer’s cost. So the more you automate — automation is not a bad thing, automation’s a really good thing, the more that you can automate and standardize, the less time you have to spend, the faster the customer gets what they actually want resolved, or change, and the less it costs. It costs you less money, it costs them less money, this is a good thing for everybody involved.

Steve: [59.06] Agreed, yeah – agreed. And it’s not to imply that it’s not a good thing, I just want to make sure folks know that there’s two parts to it, right? The automation is great, but it’s what it allows us to go do. Frankly, in some cases, customers love that they can just get a single pane of glass portal to manage everything, they have access to the integrated tooling, and can just lean on us for advice and guidance, right? There’s all flavors of this that are really great for customers.

Max: [59.29] I mean, we’ll have to spend another hour on this later, because part of what we talk about, whether it’s your fabric or your software systems, you do give people the ability to do financial modelling against their cloud spends. I mean, you are tracking these sorts of things, you are… I mean, this isn’t just something that you’re doing a project and somebody’s going through bills and creating spreadsheets, I mean this is something you’re exposing to customers in real time, and they can see what’s going on, and… You know, they can understand what’s happening, and then you have data that goes around it, you can look at these things and figure out trends and identify areas and you know, and for somebody who hasn’t gone to that level yet, or is still trying to decipher and AWS build by themselves… I mean, you know, it’s a very specific pain point, but if you’ve ever tried to understand an AWS bill at size, it’s not easy, right? And you, I mean you have to have something that can slice and dice this thing for you more effectively. 

Steve: [60.20] Yeah, look… I mean, exporting the CSV file and trying to create pivot tables and really understand it, if anyone’s done it it’s the most fun thing you’ll ever do in your life, I promise you. It’s pure hell, right? But you can get tools, you can find ways to get there, but it really is even that is cumbersome, because if you have one tool, it may not work with every provider, it may be hard to integrate… We’ve done quite a bit there – actually Max, I think even since you and I last spoke – I mean, cloud help is now fully integrated across every single platform offering we have, we have some really great integration points through our recent Onica acquisition that are coming in from a cost optimization standpoint, but even just having na API integrated billing platform, so that you can get all of your bills pulled in, synthesized and then plugged into the cloud help, where you can create your own dashboards, reporting, exports, that alone is pretty amazing to be honest, and when you call somebody like Tyler or I or somebody on our team and say, “Hey, I actually need your help getting this ready, I have a board presentation next week and I really want to show what our cost trend has been over the last two years and what we’re doing to optimize.” We could literally turn that around for customers within a day or two, because it’s all there at our fingertips and it’s what we do every day. I mean, it’s — there’s so many what-if scenarios like that that we could walk through that are really just — I mean, it’s tremendous. One, how complicated it is, and two, how simplified it can also become.

Tyler: [61.46] And the cool part about the people aspect of what Mill has shared and I always joke with long term customers, but I don’t think that Rackspace would have survived without South Texas just… Southern mindset of, we genuinely want to help people, right? That’s just how we are, that’s what’s in the DNA of being a South Texas resident. Obviously we’ve gone global, we’ve scaled, but I still feel that in our interactions with customers, even folks that aren’t in Texas, they’re in one of our other offices, but I think that’s part of being a Racker, is you want to help people, and so to Steve’s point, we have the tools, we have the process, but if we didn’t have the people, it would be a much different experience. And so, I think that’s one of the things that we truly love about Rackspace, is we have the people and they want to help you be successful and whatever that is, and so it really is a unique experience when you deal with Rackspace.

Max: [62.36] Absolutely, infrastructure is commoditized, people are not. Guys, thank you so much for your time, it’s always a pleasure, we could spend ten hours just completely geeking out about Rackspace, I have no doubts about that at all but we have to leave some for another episode, so… I appreciate your time today.

Steve: [62.54] Yeah, thank you – we’re happy to join any time Max, and if you leave it to Tyler and I especially, we would work out for hours and hours just dealing with this stuff, but yeah. It’s always a pleasure, thank you.

Tyler: [63.03] Thanks, Max.

OUTRO: [63.08] Thanks for joining the Tech Deep Dive podcast. At Clarksys we believe tech should make your life better, searching Google is a waste of time, and the right vendor is often one you haven’t heard of before. We can help you buy the right tech for your business, visit us at Clarksys.com to schedule an intro call. 

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