Rackspace showing real thought leadership

I continue to be impressed by the direction that Rackspace is taking at the moment in regards to the cloud.

Today they announced that they are working with Akamai on distributing content through the cloud as reported through The Register here. On paper this seems to jump past the AWS from Amazon and their CloudFront service. CloudFront doesn't push anywhere near as deep into the network as what Akamai do. Of course I'm not going to write off Amazon though as they are innovating very quickly also.

The other big (huge??) thing that they are behind is OpenStack. I believe that the project has the ability to really tidy up in cloud management, and as a bonus it is open source. If it's good enough for NASA then perhaps it is good enough for others also. They worked with Rackspace to get OpenStack started because of dissatisfaction with open core model on another product (I could start a whole rant on open core here and how some people are using some real deception at the moment but I don't like writing negative blog posts...).

See this article here from The Register which talks about Ubuntu going with OpenStack very recently. I have been nudging a few people at Canonical to take this direction for a number of months, and glad to see it coming to fruition although I probably can't claim much credit for this!

Of course the big two parties missing from OpenStack are VMWare and Amazon who probably have the majority of private and public cloud deployments today. They probably have the most to lose from this as well.... Interestingly enough Microsoft IS backing OpenStack.

So RackSpace allows you to shift from traditional colo, to VM hosting, to true cloud services. Can you see why they have been so successful recently? You don't need to keep changing vendors as you start advancing your strategy.

One could also comment on the Scoble effect as a side note as Dennis Howlett did recently. And then there are other products that they've picked up along the way like CloudKick and JungleDisk which fill some nice niches.

The only area I'm not sure about though is their cloud email strategy and their SaaS strategy as a whole. I think Microsoft with Office 365 (formerly BPOS) or Google Apps has a big head start here. Having said that the market is still young, and at US$2 per user per month for their email service that is great value for money.

You could also argue that they are covering off all of the cloud bases and probably the only company that is showing such foresight at present in my mind is actually Microsoft as I talk about a little here.

For historical note I first flagged up Rackspace and OpenStack back in July last year here and here. The only thing that I am kicking myself is that I didn't buy shares at the time when I wrote this. Look at this graph and see what the shares have done since then....


  1. Ian,

    Thank you for your comments — you hit on the items I'm excited about as a Rackspace employee (and long time customer before that!): the Akamai partnership (and what it means for Rackspace Cloud customers as well as dedicated and hybrid hosting customers), OpenStack, CloudKick... Many of these initiatives were born out of listening to the community. Your feedback will continue to be important. I can be reached at robot AT rackspace DOT com.

    Robert J Taylor
    Sr Systems Engineer
    Rackspace Hosting


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