Managed services separate Rackspace cloud from other vendors

Despite Rackspace's uncertain future, its cloud continues to be a force in the market, from its OpenStack initiative down to its managed cloud support.

Rackspace was one of the first to introduce cloud computing as a product offering. Along the way, the company has grown not just into a cloud player, but also into a cloud leader -- particularly with its OpenStack initiative. Whether the company goes private or stays public, Rackspace is a force to be reckoned with in the cloud industry due to its plethora of products and offerings, as well as its managed support.

Rackspace cloud use cases are in line with most major cloud providers. The biggest differentiator is its ability to offer managed services. Many cloud providers can't scale to Rackspace's managed services due to costs and complexity. Recently, Rackspace announced it would capitalize on its managed cloud services by expanding those offerings to all future customers, giving customers help -- as well as what the vendor calls "fanatical support" -- all the way up the stack.

If your organization isn't already tied up with VMware, Rackspace could be one of the better options available.

Catalog of Rackspace cloud services

Considering that Rackspace has been offering cloud-like services before cloud was even available, its catalog of services is a mixture of public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud applications and traditional managed services. The sheer variety of offerings gives Rackspace the ability to meet the needs of multiple use cases, which allows it to engage a variety of customers.

The sheer variety of offerings gives Rackspace the ability to meet the needs of multiple use cases, which allows them to engage a variety of customers.

Public cloud: Rackspace's public cloud service is composed of an operationally efficient offering, Rackspace Managed Cloud, as well as its infrastructure as a service (IaaS). The main difference between the two offerings is that Rackspace has a team of engineers that functions as an extension of a customer's IT team in the Managed Cloud. Rackspace handles all aspects of managing the cloud servers, including the operating systems, application stack, cloud DNS, databases, alarms and more. Rackspace even resizes servers based on performance and capacity needs.

The public cloud offering is priced similar to many other cloud vendors via pay-per-use. Its cloud servers have different versions, such as Performance 1 or Performance 2. The cost is per hour, based on the amount of RAM used in that version. It's difficult to pin down an average cost for Rackspace IaaS because of its many other supplemental services, such as backup, load balancing, monitoring and storage. However, the vendor's website now offers a calculator in an effort to give greater pricing transparency.

Private cloud: The Rackspace answer to building out a private cloud is the open source OpenStack. An organization can develop an automated private cloud environment that can be robust and support a multitude of technologies with OpenStack.

OpenStack is an interesting technology because it's a "stack" of technologies. When configured together, the stack can be used as a complete cloud suite, similar to VMware vCloud Suite. On the other hand, OpenStack can also be broken down and used individually to solve challenges. This flexibility makes OpenStack very powerful. The main downside is that deploying and fully configuring a complete stack is complex.

This is where Rackspace comes in. Rackspace helps the customers meet their needs by deploying and configuring OpenStack through its private cloud. Rackspace can do this at the customer's location, in a colocation facility, or even in one of Rackspace's facilities.

Hybrid cloud: The final Rackspace cloud offering is for hybrid cloud. An organization can use the Rackspace IaaS, stand up a private OpenStack cloud and use the Rackspace connector to create a hybrid cloud. This is an interesting offering because it rivals the VMware Hybrid Cloud Service, except it is based on OpenStack instead of VMware.

About the author:
Brad Maltz is in the CTO office of Lumenate, a national technical consulting firm focused on data center, security, end user experience and cloud technologies. He holds certifications from VMware and EMC for many technologies including being VCDX #36 and a vExpert.

Next Steps

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This was first published in July 2014
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