New Rackspace Application Services Expands Options, Simplifies Pricing

Rackspace Application Services, the next generation of application support from Rackspace, now offers world-class application services for Java and .Net, plus four digital applications across dedicated, AWS and Azure infrastructures.

Prior to this launch, Rackspace provided application support and services only on dedicated infrastructure. We have also simplified our pricing model, which is now based on infrastructure spend, while still providing options for the number of hours of support a customer may need each month.

I sat down with Product Manager Charlotte Colbert to learn more about Rackspace Application Services and the challenges it solves for customers.

How is this different from previous Rackspace applications services?

Rackspace first offered application support and services in 2009 with the Critical Sites product. We expanded the scope of services to include in-depth expertise on specific Digital Apps in 2012 with Critical Application Services. The launch of Managed Application Services portfolio in 2016 provided multiple options for the level and hours of support available to customers.

Rackspace Application Services replaces those products, and expands to include customers using AWS or Azure for their infrastructures. Now, RAS Application Operations and Application Operations for Digital Apps includes five tools from New Relic to provide deeper insights into customers applications and business impacts: Application Performance Monitoring, Infrastructure Monitoring, Synthetic Transaction Monitoring, Real User Monitoring and Insights.

Why do applications matter to business?

As the options and integration possibilities in IT grow and evolve, the skills and knowledge required to design, implement, operate and support applications has grown more complex and more demanding. According to a recent IDG Market Pulse Study, large companies use more than 600 applications at any given time, with fully 40 percent of those deemed mission critical. At the same time, more than half of IT departments surveyed acknowledge they have difficulties managing their applications’ performance.

And we know poor performance and downtime have serious costs. A company’s success or failure can now be directly tied to how easy it is for customers to do business with them online. Companies’ applications and websites must be responsive at all hours and from all locations. If they’re not, the customer will quickly go to a competitor — and may never return.

According to a 2015 IDC report, the cost of application downtime can reach up to $2.5 billion annually. Broken down, that’s roughly $130,000 an hour for mission critical applications and $105,000 an hour for non-mission critical in the form of missed sales, lost productivity and data loss. And with an average of 12 unplanned downtime events per year, the cost to a single company can be more than $11 million annually 

Downtime is not the only issue. Poor application performance also has negative impacts, with every second increase in application and/or page load time resulting in decreased in page views, lower customer satisfaction and fewer conversions.

Adding to the high stakes is the complexity of operating and maintaining applications in today’s technology landscape, with its multiple infrastructure types, interwoven applications, security issues and multiple methods of consumer access in a 24x7x365 world. The personnel and expertise needed to provide the best application operations for a company is staggering and rising — at a time when most companies are looking for ways to reduce costs.

Why would customers choose Rackspace Application Services vs. DIY?

In today’s economy, companies must be able to move quickly, pivot based on market conditions and derive the most value for every dollar they invest to retain and grow their customer base. They must deliver products, services and information across a multitude of platforms at the speed the end-user demands.

RAS Application Operations and Application Operations for Digital Apps allows customers to focus their resources on growing the business, while Rackspace takes care of its applications. That frees up internal IT resources to work on the next application or version of their application or business priority, while being assured their current applications are performing and delivering the desired results.

Companies no longer need to maintain staffing for the 3 a.m. emergencies; Rackspace RAS has them covered 24x7x365.

RAS also provides the tools and information that allow companies to make data-driven decisions about their applications and their impacts on customers. Decision-makers need more than just quick access to data to shape strategy; they must be able to quickly analyze that data. Our RAS application experts, coupled with the New Relic toolset, puts it all at a company’s fingertips.

What is the cost of Rackspace Application Services, and what does it include?

The cost of operating applications in an always-on world is significant. At a minimum, companies need engineers who know the applications, app frameworks and app environments to have coverage 24x7x365. But that also means each shift of employees can be a single point of failure.

The cost of providing a minimum staff and tools equivalent to RAS Application Operations and Application Operations for Digital Apps for one application running on 10 instances is approximately $683,000 per year, based on the salaries for five full time engineers and the application monitoring tools for 10 instances.

RAS Application Operations, by comparison, is between $81,000 and $233,200 per year, based on Application Operations for Digital Apps on dedicated infrastructure of $15,000 per month ranging between 10 and 40 hours per month.

For that, the RAS team works in partnership with the customers and systems integrator to provide the best architecture consulting, operations management and troubleshooting for their applications. The team actively monitors customers’ applications 24x7x365, proactively responding to alert conditions, performance changes or service interruptions.

We take a comprehensive approach to working with and supporting customers, beginning with the initial implementation call. Our experts work with customers to learn their application environment, business practices and pain points and business goals. This information is kept up to date in the RAS Customer Information Library, so it’s available to any RAS team member working on the customer’s application at any time.

From there, the RAS team implements and configures the tooling that provides the information and insights both the customer and the RAS team needs to catch issues before they cause a problem, and offers customers insights into their own customers’ use of the application, plus business analytics.

This combination of 24x7x365 application expertise, combined with industry-leading tools and infrastructure places Rackspace in the position to provide in-depth, responsive and comprehensive operations, support and consultation for customers’ applications freeing customers to concentrate on and invest in their business.

Which applications and environments can use Rackspace Application Services?

RAS Application Operations and Application Operations for Digital Apps is available in Rackspace dedicated and single tenant environments with our Intensive Service Level, plus AWS and Azure infrastructures with Aviator-level support.

We offer support and services for Java and .Net applications, whether written by the customer or purchased, as well as Oracle eCommerce, Sitecore, Hybris and Adobe Experience Manager. Learn more, and sign up for a free quote — or have a RAS expert contact you.

Michael Roehricht is a Senior Product Marketing Manager in Rackspace's Digital Practice Area. Michael holds a Management Information Systems degree from the University of New Mexico and a MBA from the University of San Francisco. Prior to joining Rackspace in March 2013, Michael owned his own online solutions company called ofoundry and also held online marketing and eCommerce leadership roles at Dell, Palm and various startups in Silicon Valley.

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