HOSTSEARCH: Brian - thanks for giving us the opportunity to ask a few questions. Perhaps we should start where we usually begin. Why don't you let us know a little about Rackspace and your involvement with the company?
BRIAN GARVEY: John, it's good to talk with you.
Rackspace provides Managed Hosting with a difference, which we call Fanatical Support. This is an internal culture that permeates throughout our organisation globally and drives our people to provide the best level of service in the Industry. This has been recognised on numerous occasions by the most prestigious business, customer service and technology awards and the fact that Rackspace is the UK's most recommended hosting company according to independent research.
As the EMEA Channel and Alliances Director at Rackspace, I am the link between the company and some of the most important relationships that the business has, and so Fanatical Support is something that I am acutely aware of.
HOSTSEARCH: What exactly does you role of Channel & Alliances Director entail?
BRIAN GARVEY: My role is primarily being responsible for the relationships we have with our partners, whether they are referral partners, solution partners or technology partners.
One of the most interesting elements are the partner projects I see that are on the cutting edge of technology and which involve groundbreaking use of the Internet Space. Trust is vital in these relationships, because as people embark on innovative projects, they are inevitably challenging what has been done before, and making new demands of their suppliers. These demands inevitably get passed down the line to Rackspace, and it is my job to ensure that these relationships work, alongside with the support of dedicated account managers and technical support.
Rackspace Partners provide a multitude of additional services that sit on top of our offering. Yes, they may receive referral payments from us, but more importantly, we add value to their proposition and the way they make their money. We protect their on-line reputations. They may be providing consulting, Software as a Service (SaaS) propositions, internal and external application design, or search engine optimisation and desktop support services. It's the way they make their money that interests me, and that Rackspace supports. Partners range from the very small, right up to the major system integrators and software suppliers. Combine that with the 87% a year growth we are experiencing in EMEA, and that adds up to a role which is very varied; no two days are the same.
HOSTSEARCH: Of the web hosting websites I have seen, Rackspace.co.uk probably uses some of the strongest terminology - 'Dedication', 'Obsession', 'Commitment' - all used to help people understand your philosophy of 'Fanatical Support'. What exactly does 'Fanatical Support' mean and what does it entail for Rackspace?
BRIAN GARVEY: These are key core values of Fanatical Support. There are others though which are just as important. Keep our promises, bad news first, no surprises. Treat fellow Rackers like friends and family. Results, deliver substance over flash. Embrace change for excellence.
Our Channel Partners become fantastic evangelists as a result of Fanatical Support. Indeed, 97% of our customers would recommend us to a friend or colleague, and 50% of our leads come from these referrals. Combine that with a churn rate of less than 1%, and one can see the results of Fanatical Support and where much of our current growth comes from.
HOSTSEARCH: In 2005 you were winner of the Unisys/Management Today Service Excellence Award. What other awards have Rackspace received?
BRIAN GARVEY: There are so many, but the ones I consider important are the Microsoft Hosting Partner of the year 2003 and 2005 and Redhat Advanced Hosting Partner in Europe. The crowning ones run across all business sectors rather than just IT. They include 6th best place to work in the UK, and the Management Today award you mention. To be a leading best business is a real achievement for our staff, partners and customers. Fanatical Support helps drive our awards, and this makes us proud.
HOSTSEARCH: Another trademark term you use on your website is Zero-Downtime Network. Surely this is another way of saying 100% uptime - is this possible? Can you genuinely make such a guarantee?
BRIAN GARVEY: Is the glass half empty or half full? Our network has been up globally now for 5 years, so zero downtime is real. It's all about how the infrastructure is built and supported. Because Managed Hosting is all we do, we make significant investment into being the best at what we do. The 100% uptime guarantee is backed by strong SLA's and financial penalties for us should something go wrong. That creates a culture to invest in our infrastructure, processes and people to ensure nothing does go wrong.
HOSTSEARCH: For those who might be new to the area, what are the fundamental differences between Managed Hosting and Dedicated Hosting?
BRIAN GARVEY: Managed Hosting is Rackspace. It allows a client to buy a package that includes hardware, software, Internet connectivity, data centre infrastructure, monitoring and support staff time as necessary on a monthly basis. The managed bit includes proactively monitoring and patching operating systems and databases to make sure client servers are working correctly and providing the maximum possible uptime. It's also about providing Fanatical Support to help clients when their applications, which sit on top of the Rackspace stack, goes wrong. It's how Rackspace responds to customer and partner calls for help that makes a big difference.
HOSTSEARCH: Is Managed Hosting solely in the domain of people with technical backgrounds and IT Departments, or are people with limited experience - regular users - beginning to realize the benefits of Managed Hosting?
BRIAN GARVEY: There are certain factors in our space driving the market. Certainly broadband is having a big impact. Non-technical users are now more likely to be mobile so require more than office hours support of their business applications. IT departments are trying to align their activities to their corporate business objectives whilst reducing costs, so Managed Hosting is a very attractive option. They then don't need shifts of people in the office or on call.
The SaaS model, sometimes called an ASP service, is experiencing enormous growth at the moment. Managed hosting is vital in reducing SaaS suppliers support costs, and changing the traditional model of purchasing hardware and software up-front into a monthly service to balance business' revenue income to their expenditure.
Finally people now use and trust Internet Banking. This has had a big impact on acceptance that the Internet can be secure. Because the Internet is now used and trusted widely, we see many more internally facing business applications being deployed at Rackspace as businesses roll out new solutions to help them change processes to increase their margins. This includes web based CRM, e-Learning, and marketing systems, but increasingly payroll and HR systems where on-line benefit access and paperless wage slips save cost and improve the employee experience.
HOSTSEARCH: OK - here's our de facto question... one we ask everyone! What is going to be the next big thing on the Internet and how will it impact people's lives?
BRIAN GARVEY: Watch this space. Working with our Partners, I get to see great new ideas, which will come to market all the time, but as I am sure you will respect, they are under NDA. I do really enjoy helping and mentoring these opportunities and often put customers, partners and people in touch with each other where it will help them built better business models. Maybe I'll come back to you on that one with something very exciting due around October!!!
HOSTSEARCH: 10 years is an awfully long time as far as any technology is concerned - where do you see Rackspace in 10 years and, without giving too much away, what do you expect to be offering your customers that you don't offer now?
BRIAN GARVEY: 10 years, wow there's a thought. Let's look more closely. In 5 years, more global certainly, a billion plus revenue organization, a huge reputation for service, and a partner community which delivers a very high percentage of that growth.
HOSTSEARCH: When your day has been filled with 'Dedication', 'Obsession', and 'Commitment' it must be hard to wind down after work. What do you do to balance things out?
BRIAN GARVEY: Golf is a passion. If someone came up with that idea today I wonder if it would get off the drawing board. Then there is the villa being built in Spain, which is an interesting challenge. In truth I love my job, I love the growth we are seeing in our Channel program. With our growth plans, I have room for more Partners, so come and talk to me!