Nearly 700 VARs and channel leaders attended this week's Ingram Micro VTN conference in San Francisco. But this evening, Ingram Micro's new VP of Managed Services and Cloud Computing, Renee Bergeron (pictured), is traveling from the VTN event to another conference in San Antonio, Texas. Her destination: The Rackspace Partner Leadership Summit. Why are scores of VARs and managed services leaders like Bergeron gathering at this annual Rackspace conference? Here's the answer.

If you blinked an eye, you may have overlooked the fact that Rackspace has quietly built a channel cloud team that includes veterans from AMD, Avaya and Extreme Networks. Sure, thousands of VARs and MSPs wonder if or how they'll cash in on the cloud. But on October 6, Rackspace VP of Worldwide Channel Sales Robert Fuller is set to tell conference attendees how leading VARs and MSPs are already profiting from the Rackspace cloud. (Here's a recap of the Rackspace conference so far.)

Packed Schedule

No doubt, this is a busy week for channel-related partner conferences. Ironically, many high-tech companies like Cisco Systems, HP and Oracle-Sun are rediscovering classic channel relationships with big distributors, and pitching their strategies at distributor conferences.

But the Rackspace Partner Leadership Summit has a somewhat different feel, because Rackspace is a pure service provider. I'm not suggesting Rackspace has the perfect channel cloud strategy. Rival hosting providers like The Planet are certainly educating VARs about the cloud. But why are key names from the managed services industry -- people like Bergeron and Ingram Micro Director of Services Jason Beal -- here at the Rackspace event?

I've got two answers:
  • First, established channel companies apparently are exploring opportunities to work more closely with Rackspace's traditional managed hosting business.
  • Second, just about anyone focused on channel and cloud convergence is taking a close look at OpenStack, an open source cloud platform that Rackspace is promoting.
Ingram's Bergeron will also grab the spotlight for a bit here, hosting a session called Building Cloud Into Your Services Portfolio to Generate More Business. Bergeron is fairly new to Ingram, having replaced former VP Justin Crotty in September 2010. I'll be curious to hear how she blends the managed services and cloud themes during her session.

Meanwhile, I expect plenty of OpenStack updates from Rackspace over the next 24 to 48 hours. I wonder: Will the MSP industry leaders here be impressed with what Rackspace has to say?

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