Rackspace gets the number of Sharepoint911

Rackspace has had a busy week: company results, a partnership with Redapt and now an acquisition

Rackspace is not Oracle.  Larry’s corporate behemoth exists on a diet of fresh meat, corporate acquisitions and an occasional doffed hat to the Java Community Process executive committee. Rackspace meanwhile, for the most part, appears to have grown somewhat more organically if its reports of customers wins and service expansion are to given full credence.

So it is this week that we see the cloud hosting specialist acquire Ohio headquartered SharePoint911. Presumably named after the American emergency services telephone number, the company provides consulting, training and so-called "jump start" services within SharePoint.

NOTE: Notoriously difficult to comprehend due to its size, SharePoint is essentially a web application platform from Microsoft. It is typically used for content management tasks including document management and as such its primary functionalities involve the input, tracking and downloading of data.

Rackspace’s move to snap up SharePoint911 therefore rests on a technology proposition designed to provide cloud based delivery of SharePoint, as a more flexible hosted solution. Never knowingly undersold, Rackspace of course also points to its incremental services layer around which it hinges much of its brand and customer messages.

Alongside its content management charms, SharePoint also has the potential to be used as a CRM solution, a personal organiser, as a web site management too, a shared interactive calendar management system and a contacts database. One might assume that Rackspace’s recent shopping spree is intended to bring in new application services layers, but in fact the company entered the managed SharePoint market in 2008 with a service offering that helped companies “deal with the complexities” of managing SharePoint environments.

"SharePoint911 was founded on the principle that the complexities of SharePoint should not limit the solution's success within an organisation," said Shane Young, SharePoint MVP and founder at SharePoint911. "With the support of Rackspace, we look forward to continuing that mission and spreading our capabilities within Fanatical Support to our current and future customers."

IDC analyst Melanie Posey is predictably upbeat about this week’s news, saying that one of the primary barriers to broader SharePoint usage in businesses is the lack of comprehensive design, development, training and end user support. Posey believes that Rackspace is “uniquely positioned” to take SharePoint forward to a new customer base.

So in summary, with managed hosting Rackspace has (arguably) taken a comparatively “invisible” technology offering and wrapped its branded Fanatical Support label around it quite successfully. The company talks volubly about how many customers it has signed up in the EMEA region, how it is taking on new staff and how its Slough-based data centre works well from a compliance perspective. Plus, SharePoint is (once again, arguably) one of the fastest growing applications in the business productivity segment -- so what’s not to like?

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