Rackspace Names Taylor Rhodes President - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Cloud // Platform as a Service
News
1/14/2014
11:40 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Rackspace Names Taylor Rhodes President

Former chief customer officer aims to shake off investor doubts about Rackspace's cloud service fortunes.

Rackspace has named chief customer officer Taylor Rhodes its new president after a six-month stretch in which its CEO Lanham Napier served in both roles.

Rhodes's ascension is a sign that Rackspace wants all executive positions filled and all hands on deck as it battles for market share against Amazon, Google, and other cloud service providers. Investors appear pessimistic: Rackspace stock dropped from $36.59 to $35.83, off 2%, on the news. It's well below half of its 52-week high of $81.36 per share.

CEO Napier assumed the president's post at the end of July when Lew Moorman, president and chief strategy officer, resigned. Moorman remains a member of the board but left his position "to spend more time with my family," according to a blog he posted July 25. Moorman's wife had just completed a successful cancer surgery, and his eldest daughter was facing continuing health problems.

[Learn more about how Rackspace's OpenStack team broke new ground. See 9 More Cloud Computing Pioneers.]

Rhodes said in an interview with InformationWeek that restoring value to Rackspace's stock will depend on investors seeing Rackspace management "execute against a strategy." And that strategy will be "geared to service leadership in the industry built on fanatical support." The "fanatical support" phrase has accompanied Rackspace's expansion from hosted-service provider (still the majority of its business) into the cloud market.

Rhodes said Rackspace is finding success with both new cloud and existing hosted service customers. Many hosted service customers want the commodity infrastructure and lower prices of cloud computing, but they also want to retain the option of operating their own private, managed servers and applications alongside the public cloud. The hybrid option of single-tenant servers alongside multitenant servers is one of the basic appeals of Rackspace's combined business, he told us.


Taylor Rhodes

Rhodes has held a number of executive positions in his seven years at Rackspace, primarily in sales, marketing, and customer support. Prior to becoming chief customer officer, he was senior VP and managing director of Rackspace's international unit. As a result, he brings a different set of skills to the post compared to Moorman, a Stanford law school graduate.

Rhodes "has generated strong growth in all the businesses he has led. Our international business, for example, grew 30% a year under his leadership," said Napier in announcing Rhodes's appointment.

But Rackspace's challenge is convincing a broader segment of customers that it can compete as Amazon keeps up a drumbeat of new service offerings and lower prices. Rackspace Cloud has been criticized for a narrower feature offering and slow growth by financial service analysts, who don't see it keeping pace with Amazon.

However, one analyst cited a recent Red Hat statement that its growth in Enterprise Linux customers reflects increasing use of the Rackspace Cloud.

Rhodes picked up on that point by saying Rackspace acquired ObjectRocket last February "for an undisputed expertise in running MongoDB" for big data analysis as part of its customer cloud services. Rackspace will continue to add services to its infrastructure-as-a-service and "offer a hybrid set of options that give the customer the best choice" of combined services, he said.

Rhodes joined Rackspace in 2007 as head of sales and support. He went on to launch Rackspace Enterprise Services, which served larger customers. Previously, Rhodes worked at EDS, managing relationships with large global customers. He is a former US Marine Corps infantry officer and holds an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Taylor's appointment "represents a successful example of the company's long-term talent-development plan," Napier said in the announcement.

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek, having joined the publication in 2003. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week.

Private clouds are moving rapidly from concept to production. But some fears about expertise and integration still linger. Also in the Private Clouds Step Up issue of InformationWeek: The public cloud and the steam engine have more in common than you might think. (Free registration required.)

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
cbabcock
50%
50%
cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
1/14/2014 | 4:42:46 PM
Will investors back revamped Rackspace?
Rackspace comes out of the managed hosting service business to cloud, and perhaps for that reason, observers of the market have less confidence it will do well in cloud services, compared to Amazon, Microsoft or Google. Rackspace needs an executive team that can push back against the doubt. Newly appointed President Taylor Rhodes cites the combination of bare metal, dedicated servers versus commodity public cloud -- Rackspace's hsa both. And that's it's strength, along with qualified technical support people behind the services. As the enterprise takes a greater interest in making use of public clouds, this may prove to have its appeal. Will investors buy it?
Commentary
2021 Outlook: Tackling Cloud Transformation Choices
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  1/4/2021
News
Enterprise IT Leaders Face Two Paths to AI
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  12/23/2020
Slideshows
10 IT Trends to Watch for in 2021
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  12/22/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you.
Slideshows
Flash Poll