How Is Rackspace Different?

How is Rackspace different? It’s a question that I get all the time.

Maybe it is because there are so many companies in the hosting business and it seems every technology company is jumping into the cloud service provider market.  It could also be Rackspace’s unique personality or our business strategy, which are very different from most other companies in this industry.

When I answer this question, I don’t necessarily focus on how our products or features are different. That would be a very boring and make for a long blog post (tl;dr). Instead, I highlight the Rackspace philosophy and focus on our values. Sometimes, showcasing why Rackspace does things a certain way is more effective than talking about what Rackspace does.

Here are some of the beliefs we hold that make Rackspace different:

1. Technology should fit your application, not the other way around.

Many organizations start with a specific technology as the answer, and then they try to adapt their application to fit that technology. This is especially true with new tools like the cloud or NoSQL databases. At Rackspace we believe there is a right tool for every job, and we prefer to understand your specific application requirements first (scalability, security, performance, etc.) and then recommend the combination of technologies that will work best. We call it best fit. This is why we continue to invest in all areas of a very complete hybrid cloud portfolio that includes dedicated infrastructure, virtualization powered by VMware, public cloud and private cloud.

2. You should not have to be a specialist in everything.

Most cloud service providers focus on delivering commodity infrastructure in a purely self-service model, at the lowest cost possible. This is a good model for organizations that have the resources, skills and experience to build and run their infrastructure themselves. However, many companies don’t have DBAs, security engineers, sys admins or network architects on-hand that can be assigned to new projects. For these teams, Rackspace helps architect, plan, implement, manage, support and optimize their infrastructure. Examples include managed services on the cloud, DBAs available as a service, critical application services with a 100% platform uptime guarantee and DevOps Automation Services. This specialization, plus the commitment to do what’s right for our customers, is what we call Fanatical Support.

3. Performance, resiliency and uptime are not exclusively your responsibility.

With many other service providers, the responsibility for uptime lies with you, the customer. When a system that goes down, the default assumption is that there is a problem in the way the system was architected; for example, not taking advantage of different availability zones and architecting for resiliency. While we recommend similar configurations to customers that require high availability, the difference is that Rackspace takes ownership and accountability of uptime, performance and resiliency together with the client.

For example, contrary to what many in the industry believe, cloud servers can and should be reliable. Across our datacenters around the globe, our infrastructure uptime track record is higher than 99.999%. We continuously improve our promises to customers backed by SLAs. Rackspace Cloud Servers use RAID disks and redundant networks. More importantly, we are always happy to help you make the right technology and architectural decisions to ensure you get the performance and uptime for your applications that the business requires. You could say we are fanatical about making sure our your apps run well. I love how one of our customers put it “Anything that is critical and we want no downtime for, it’s at Rackspace

4. You shouldn’t have to make a forever decision when you make a platform decision.

If you look five years into the past, no one could have forecasted how technology has transformed the world, especially how the cloud, mobility and big data completely changed the game. There is no reason to assume this technology evolution will slow down during the next five years. The opposite is likely true. We know businesses, industries and priorities change so fast and that rate of change also shows no sign of slowing. With this in mind, flexibility and agility are even more important when making a decision on the technology that supports your company.

At Rackspace we believe you should have choices. You should be able to move things off of Rackspace if we are no longer able to serve your needs. You should be able to use multiple technologies together. You should be able to deploy technology in you own datacenters, at Rackspace and/or with other providers. This mobility and flexibility is a philosophy we call open. It is a concept that goes beyond supporting open source-licensed technologies. It means we embrace transparency as a core value. It means Rackspace won’t try to lock you in to a technology, deployment format or contract.

These four principles are evident in almost everything we do as a company. More importantly, when I have an opportunity to talk with some of our customers, you often cite these ideas as the reasons why you are Rackspace customers.

Rackspace is not aiming to serve every customer out there. We strive to not compete on price or on number of features. However, those of you who agree with these values are usually very good candidates to be Rackspace customers, and you end up being very happy about making that decision.

It’s these values and these customers that make Rackspace different.


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