Rackspace Service Blocks has its roots in APAC

Rackspace’s new managed services model that lets enterprises choose services based on where they are in their cloud adoption journey was conceived in the Asia-Pacific region

About two years ago, a group of Rackspace employees in Asia-Pacific (APAC) realised that some customers were not using their suite of managed services to their full potential. There were times when one service was used more often than others, depending on where customers were in their cloud adoption journey.

The old managed services model, based on a buffet spread of professional and managed services, had to change, said Darryn McCoskery, Rackspace’s general manager for ANZ and Asia. “Customers were saying they loved what we did, but they were not always seeing value,” he said.

Within months, the Rackspace team pulled its managed services portfolio apart, breaking it down into what it calls Service Blocks to match what a typical enterprise would need at different stages of its cloud adoption lifecycle.

“It’s the first time where professional services and managed services come together to provide a new model for customers to consume what they need at the point of their cloud journey,” said McCoskery. “So, rather than have an all-you-can-eat buffet for one price, you choose what you want today and something else tomorrow.”

Using the example of an enterprise that might not need help with cloud cost governance on day one of its cloud journey but would welcome professional services to architect and deploy a cloud workload, McCoskery said Service Blocks allow an enterprise to tap into the right service at the right time.

First launched in late 2018 in the US, followed recently by Europe and Asia, Service Blocks comprises six modules of managed and professional services, ranging from Platform Essentials, which offers a control panel to manage public cloud accounts, to optimising complex operations in more advanced cloud deployments.

“Think of it as a waterfall where you can add blocks over time for whatever duration you need them, because business needs change and the world is constantly changing,” said McCoskery.

Rackspace first tested Service Blocks with a small group of customers for about six months and gathered their feedback before launching the service. With the flexibility that the service delivers, Rackspace also had to undertake substantial back-end work.

“Our back-end systems had to be manipulated so we can do currency conversions for thousands of customers and to support multiple service blocks and multiple cloud services,” said McCoskery. “By the time we launched the service, we were in good shape.”

Service Blocks has had a “material impact” on Rackspace’s business, he said, enabling it to meet the needs of a diverse APAC region with varying levels of maturity in cloud adoption.

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In Australia, the most mature of the lot, followed by Singapore and Hong Kong, McCoskery thinks Aussie enterprises are more concerned with getting value out of their technology investments.

That has been driving high levels of cloud consumption which tied to operating expenditure rather than up-front investments, he said.

Rackspace, known for its high-quality customer experience, is growing its APAC business at a “double-digit” rate, according to McCoskery. In 2017, it opened an office in Singapore to tap the growing cloud opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Rackspace also operates out of Hong Kong and Australia, and McCoskery said the company is tapping talent across the region to support its customers, particularly those in the commercial and enterprise segments where firms need help to scale their cloud deployments.

“Technical talent is really hard to find, and extraordinarily good technical talent is even more difficult to find and keep,” he said. “We want to make sure we maximise the ability of our talent across the region.”

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