Rackspace Launches Managed Cloud Service

Rackspace Hosting is looking to make cloud computing appealing to a broader set of customers that might not have the resources or acumen to manage systems and apps in the cloud.

The company Tuesday launched what it described as a new category of service called Managed Cloud, which combines the best of its managed hosting services and public cloud offerings. The company's first Managed Cloud service is called Cloud Servers, which gives customers managed OS, Web server and database services in its public cloud.

Customers using Cloud Servers will get managed support and automated patches and updates to their systems. Among those server operating systems offered are: Microsoft's Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise 64-bit, Ubuntu 10.4, (Lucid Lynx), Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4 and CentOS 5.5.  

The application server platforms offered include Apache, MySQL, PHP and Microsoft's IIS and SQL Server Standard Edition 2008 R2. Like other cloud services, pricing is based on usage. The company released a pricing calculator on its site.

With Managed Cloud, customers get OS and application monitoring and support that doesn't come with the company's existing cloud server offerings. While the traditional service consists of core 24x7x365 chat, phone, ticket support, control panel and a 100 percent network uptime guarantee, the new Cloud Servers offers the added managed service levels.

"It really provides a level of systems administration that you're not getting in the traditional cloud server models," said Jim Battenberg, Rackspace's Cloud Evangelist, in an interview. "We will actually log into the box and we can troubleshoot and monitor and set thresholds and alerts. So if you're looking for sys admin type support in the cloud, this offering is it."

In addition, with the Cloud Servers offering, data is backed up more routinely -- 14 times per day, compared with just once per day, Battenberg said. Rackspace is also giving customers admin-level access in addition the access its own administrators have. "So we can go into the configuration, see all of their servers and understand where their issues are and help them troubleshoot," Battenberg said.

Cloud Servers will also appeal to organizations that lack systems administrators with experience in configuring and managing servers, Battenberg added. "There are a lot of small and medium sized businesses that don’t have sys admin level expertise that don’t know how to get down into a server at the root level and look at a Linux kernel and figure out what needs to happen," he said.

Though historically a provider of Linux server hosting, Rackspace is rapidly extending its Windows-based cloud offerings. The company went live with a Windows Server cloud service over the summer and just last month added SQL Server to the mix. The company also now offers a Visual Studio 2010 API, allowing developers to deploy .NET applications in its cloud.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.