Rackspace CTO John Engates on Making Data-Driven Business Decisions

Guest author John Engates is Chief Technology Officer at Rackspace, the #1 managed cloud company. He is a keynote speaker at FutureStack15, where Rackspace is a Platinum Sponsor.

rackspace_logoThe foundation of Rackspace isn’t servers and data centers. It’s our people. It’s the Fanatical Support® we’ve made our name on.

Delivering Fanatical Support is made possible through our ability to collect and analyze large volumes of data. How many support tickets were logged for a given product? How do our 300,000+ customers use our API? What is the most requested future functionality and in which region? We use this data to better understand our customers and how we can meet their evolving needs.

Data lets us ask questions and get concrete answers.

Today, there are more computers than ever. The Internet of Things (IoT) has embedded computing devices everywhere—in our phones, cars, homes, watches, cameras, and eyeglasses. All of these devices are creating an unimaginable stream of data, at a pace once thought impossible. Businesses, organizations, and governments can find needles lurking in this haystack of data—and sometimes whole, embedded haystacks—that allow them to make valuable decisions.

internet of thingsThey’re looking to the cloud to store this data, to secure it, to make it accessible. They want to derive actionable insights and create new experiences for their customers. Web apps like Facebook, for example, couldn’t operate without the ability to manage and marry structured and unstructured data to build seamless experiences for more than a billion users.

To navigate the increasingly complex big data landscape, companies are outsourcing their big data projects to remove the burden and cost of doing it all themselves. With tools like New Relic Insights, companies are able to make critical data-driven business decisions in real time.

Data insights were essential to our decision to introduce services like Managed Hadoop, Cassandra, and MongoDB, and to add Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services.

We use data insights to guide a number of critical business decisions, including:

  • Determining which products and feature enhancements to bring to market
  • Planning where to spend time developing and contributing back to OpenStack, including the formation of the OpenStack Innovation Center, the largest build-out of an OpenStack Developer cloud
  • Understanding which technologies our customers could benefit from and then investing in the systems, tools, training, and human capital required to deliver them fanatically

You can access these types of insights, too. The Rackspace and New Relic Tools partnership gives you enterprise-grade hosting for your Web app layered with New Relic Tools to:

  • Monitor production Web apps on the Rackspace Cloud
  • Troubleshoot potential issues proactively
  • Improve service delivery and service-level agreements (SLAs)
  • Get insights and actionable data from real users and sessions
  • Monitor the health of services that your app depends on
  • Discover the active number of load balancers
  • Pull metrics from the ObjectRocket MongoDB service

With the combination of infrastructure support and total visibility into your systems, you can use your data to answer the questions that move your organization forward.

In my opening keynote at FutureStack, you’ll get a taste of how customers are using this partnership to their advantage and how you can, too. We’ll also have specialists on hand at our booth to discuss your needs and offer live demos. At the booth, grab your DeathStar™ Ice Mold highball glass—every data technologist needs one—and let us show you how to harness big data to answer the biggest questions your organization faces.


IoT image courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

John Engates joined Rackspace in August 2000, just a year after the company was founded, as Vice President of Operations, managing the data center operations and customer service teams. Two years later, when Rackspace decided to add new services for larger enterprise customers, John created and helped develop the Intensive Hosting business unit. Most recently, John has played an active role in the evolution and evangelism of Rackspace's cloud-computing strategy and cloud products. John meets frequently with customers to hear about their needs and concerns, and to discuss Rackspace's vision for the future of cloud computing. John currently serves as Chief Technology Officer. View posts by .

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