LAS VEGAS -- Lew Moorman, the Chief Strategic Officer at Rackspace, which hosts cloud provider Mosso, says his company can compete effectively in the cloud computing marketplace despite a substantial handicap in infrastructure compared with Amazon.
It also lacks the computing resources of Amazon; according to estimates, Amazon's deployed capacity at around 250,000 servers, although it is not known how much of that capacity is public cloud and how much is for retail operations. Rackspace has 50,000 servers, and while Moorman says Rackspace can't invest on the same scale, the company is large enough to see the same economies of scale. "We're a $500 million company; if we were $50 million, I'd be much more nervous," he said.
Unlike larger cloud providers, Rackspace is not building its own data centers but it is leasing or retrofitting available space, the latest scheduled to open July 2009 in Virginia. Moorman says they can increase capacity quickly and cheaply, since, "We're paying the same for servers as anyone else.". No matter what, Rackspace is well behind cloud leaders in spending: Amazon reportedly spent $86 million on infrastructure in 2008, and scientific grid provider Teragrid received $65 million in public grants to build data centers.Trying to gain on EC2
Moorman claims that Mosso can profit in the near term by offering services and transparency that Amazon currently does not. "We're so used to serving customers that are risk averse, it's an advantage to us," Moorman said. "But I don't think it's a long-term advantage." He says Amazon "won't even tell you where" its servers host data. "I think that will change, or … they won't get enterprise business."
Croll said Rackspace's best bet is to draw on its roots as a service provider since it will not be able to compete in raw compute power. Moorman agrees, "It's about computing services for businesses" he said. "It's a new world, and there are new skills, but this is hosting." How fast Rackspace can retool to meet new-world demands remains to be seen.Carl Brooks is the Technology Writer for SearchCloudComputing.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. And check out our Troposphere blog.