The Journey To A Hybrid Cloud: A Look At The First Six Months Of 2013

I joined Rackspace 27 months ago as one of about 2,000 Rackers. At that time, the company had a vision of a cloud powered by OpenStack that would give you, our customers, the best of cloud, dedicated and virtualized technologies. It was mostly a vision – OpenStack had been born only a few months before.

Today, I am one of over 5,000 Rackers and that vision has largely become a reality. OpenStack is trusted by tens of thousands of customers in our public cloud and powers thousands of private cloud environments. RackConnect®, the hybrid-enabling technology pioneered roughly four years ago, has made hybrid clouds a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes.

While the company has been building a powerful public cloud platform, the dedicated and virtualization capabilities have advanced too, earning recognition from Gartner research as a leader for multiple years both in North America and EMEA. It has been a great journey, but we are only at the beginning.

I am impressed as I look at the list of innovations we completed in the last six months. We move so fast that I think most of us would not be able to list half of what we have built in two quarters. So I thought it would be a good exercise to do a recap. It’s a long post, but I hope you will find in it a couple nuggets of interest that may help you and your business. Here we go:

Sharing our expertise and best practices – We added many reference architectures including a few for eCommerce and specific guidance to help deploy Magento commerce. Our Advisory Services team added an application profiling workshop to help large customers determine the right deployment model and evolution path for each application in your portfolio based on the app requirements. Mobile Cloud Stacks are helping developers get started quickly deploying applications on the hybrid cloud. We also added developer support – essentially Fanatical Support for your application code.

Managed Services – Managed Services are a very important part of what Rackspace does for you because it allows you to offload to Rackspace some of the tasks that don’t add value to your business, or tasks where you don’t have the right skills or experience. A great example is the availability of a team of DBAs for Oracle, SQL Server and MySQL to help you design, implement and tune your databases as part of our DBA Services offering.

In the past few months the Managed Cloud team has added capabilities to help you manage Active Directory and Ngnix. If you use SharePoint, you can now rely on Rackspace to fully manage your environments. Retailers using Oracle Commerce (formerly ATG) can take advantage of Critical Application Services to get not only a fully optimized application platform but also a 100 percent uptime guarantee. And if you run Microsoft® Windows® Server 2012 configurations, you can choose to self manage or ask us to fully manage your systems, with the option for “Intensive” SLAs across the hybrid cloud: on cloud, dedicated or virtualized environments.

Resiliency – You count on Rackspace to keep your applications running. As one of our customers put it recently “Anything that is critical and we want no downtime for, it’s at Rackspace.” This is why we have added significant capabilities around uptime and resiliency in the first half of this year. A lot of this investment happens behind the scenes starting from the way we build and run datacenters, which is quite different from how most of the industry operates, and is a big reason why we have a track record of better than five nines ( > 99.999 percent ) infrastructure uptime across all the datacenters we operate.

In this area we have enhanced our monitoring capabilities, and added a control plane SLA to our public cloud. For those of you on managed virtualization, we added VM recovery, VM replication and SRM™. For dedicated storage, we added the EMC RecoverPoint Appliance. The combination of reliable infrastructure, resiliency technology, managed services and SLAs gives you the peace of mind you need for mission-critical applications. This is a big reason why more online retailers trust Rackspace for eCommerce than any other hosting company.

Private Cloud – It has only been a year since Rackspace Private Cloud software launched to enable you to set up your own private clouds in less than an hour. Over 30,000 downloads later it is likely the broadest-deployed private cloud software on the planet. In the past 12 months we have stayed pretty close to OpenStack trunk and have revamped our support services, virtual network capabilities, active directory integration, high availability for OpenStack Services and much more.

Data and Storage – For many technology professionals, data is the heart of applications. In the last 12 months we have added significant data and storage capabilities for you. Cloud Databases are now available with 8 GB and 16 GB instances (delivering impressive performance benchmarks). SQL Server 2012 is fully supported across our portfolio. And, now we help you with database tasks via the DBA services mentioned before.

A few months ago Rackspace acquired ObjectRocket, which offers a very high-performance MongoDB database on the cloud. Rackspace also acquired Redis To Go which makes managing Redis instances easier, whether it’s one instance or hundreds. Cloud Big Data is available in preview for those of you who want a cloud-based big data solution powered by Apache Hadoop. In partnership with HortonWorks, we have been helping you with big data projects across our dedicated, public cloud and private cloud portfolio.

On the dedicated storage front there have been multiple updates including an entry-level dSAN, EMC Isilon scale-out NAS and an advanced NAS platform that scales beyond 20 PBs.

Networking – This has been a big year for networking, especially given the investment we made to build a scalable, dynamic software defined network backbone, which is probably one of the largest SDN deployments on the planet. Last year, we built the foundation with Cloud Networks with full Layer 2 networking enabling functions like multicast and broadcast that are great for clustering and HA solutions.

Among the new capabilities, you can now set up VPN, NAT, Firewall and routing on the cloud via the Brocade virtual networking server. Physical devices now provide threat management, log management and Web Application Firewalls to protect cloud infrastructure with updated RackConnect® technology. We have also added high performance Cisco ASA X Series Firewalls.

And much more – There have been many more capabilities added to the hybrid cloud – from container quotas for Cloud Files to server image snapshots, a very exciting pilot for the Open Compute Project, a new datacenter in Sydney with full hybrid cloud capabilities, directory sync for Email (did you know Rackspace is one of the World’s largest business email providers hosting over 3 million paid mailboxes?) and a Standard dedicated server with a starting price of $499 provisioned in 48 hours.

What’s Next

Hopefully this post provides you insight into the commitment to innovation at Rackspace and shows how we are building capabilities towards our hybrid cloud vision. Our investment over the last six months shows advances in dedicated (physical and virtualized), public and private clouds, but also in services and SLAs that make Fanatical Support a reality.

The pace of innovation is accelerating. Hundreds of software developers are working together with the broader OpenStack community to advance the capabilities of the open cloud. We look forward to a continued partnership with you as we help you run your applications where they run best and to make sure they run the way your business requires them to run.

If you want to hear more about the hybrid cloud platform we have built, our vision and the roadmap of capabilities we have planned, or if you have ideas or feedback you want to share, please let us know. We are super excited about building the future together with you, our customers. A future that is becoming a reality today, where you have the freedom to run your applications where you want, in the configuration that works best for each application, with Rackspace supporting you all the way to make sure things work as they should.


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