an event today at Austin, TX where they announced the acquisition of Jungledisk and Slicehost. In fact, they made
it a big event with live streaming through the web. I watched the
event with an anticipation for some big cloud related announcements. To be
frank, I was a little disappointed. Well, they did have a few announcements but
there was nothing ground shaking. However, their announcements are important in
their own way. Let me offer an overview of their announcements and discuss what
it means to cloud computing and also to consumers.
Rackspace has repackaged both its email and infrastructure offerings with a
few additions and are offering it under the Cloud name. Rackspace now calls
their combined Hosted Exchange Mailtrust and Noteworthy offerings as Cloud
Applications. They will also use Sonian Networks to offer powerful email
archiving services. In fact, Google offers similar archiving for the Google Apps users. The previous
incarnation of Rackspace’s cloud infrastructure offering was called Mosso. It has been
renamed as Cloud Sites so that it will fit well in their cloud themed package.
Their cloud package also has Cloud Files and Cloud Servers as a part of their
Cloud Sites: Cloud Sites is nothing but Mosso, which offers a highly scalable
multi platform stack. This will help people host their websites without worrying
about any spikes in the traffic. Slashdot and Digg effect will not bring the
sites down. They have more than 80,000 sites in this cloud.
Cloud Files: This is Rackspace’s response to Amazon S3. It is an infinitely
scalable storage solution for consumers and small businesses. They charge 15
cents per gig. for storage and offer REST based APIs. They backup their service
with a 99.9% uptime guarantee. They also offer CDN, powered by Limelight
Networks, so that the files can be cached in different parts of the world. This
will be available by the end of this year. The most interesting part of this
announcement is their acquisition of Jungledisk, a company that makes
multi-platform backup software for Amazon S3. The best part of Jungledisk is
that they are built to support multiple providers and hence we can expect
support for Cloud Files in the near future. But the most important question in
the minds of Jungledisk users is whether the support for Amazon S3 will continue
in the long run. There is no guarantee that Rackspace will continue supporting
its competitor forever.
Cloud Servers: Rackspace has announced Cloud Servers, through its acquisition
of Slicehost, to compete directly with Amazon EC2. But right now, Cloud Servers
are just VPS instances running on Xen hosts. They are not part of the clouds and
they do not offer utility pricing. However, Rackspace has announced that the
Slicehost offerings will be integrated into Rackspace’s cloud in the future. The
Slicehost acquisition should be a good news for its existing customer base,
which includes a large chunk of small businesses. Slicehost under Rackspace will
offer much more reliable service at a lower cost.
Rackspace is facing an unique dilemma. On one hand, they have a successful
managed hosting business and, on the other side, cloud computing is going big
and they had to jump in to be competent in the marketplace. Today’s cloud
announcement is a result of this dilemma. Even though, I am excited to have a
competitor for Amazon S3, I am still not convinced about Rackspace’s cloud
architecture. Today’s event didn’t provide any insight into their cloud
architecture. Hopefully, we will get a better idea once they integrate their
offerings tightly into the cloud architecture.
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