Cloud Networks: the next chapter in the Open Cloud

Rackspace Cloud Networks has launched in the UK only a week after Cloud Block Storage. It follows hot on the heels of a flurry of other releases including Cloud Databases, Cloud Servers powered by OpenStack, Cloud Monitoring and a new Cloud Control Panel.

What is Cloud Networks?
Cloud Networks is an exciting new feature which allows you to create isolated, multi-tiered networks on our Cloud Servers powered by OpenStack, all with the click of a button. It absolutely simplifies networking in the cloud.

Cloud Networks will allow you to:
• Build multi-tiered, isolated environments that help enhance network security with isolated networks for Cloud Servers.
• Control and manage your app tiers by providing the ability to easily add and remove Cloud Servers.
• Implement advanced capabilities such as clustering while providing full support for network broadcast and multicast.

Rackspace has placed no restrictions on isolated networks so you’re free to design virtual networks that look like traditional Layer 2 networks in both architecture and function, without restrictions such as the inability to broadcast and multicast.

What is the technology behind Cloud Networks?
Historically, the networking architecture for the Rackspace Cloud has provided access to the Internet via PublicNet and inter-server communication through a “private” network called ServiceNet. ServiceNet allows you to access services like Backup, Storage and Monitoring. Like most other cloud hosting providers using traditional networking, this type of architecture (called a flat network) doesn’t allow for network segmentation or the ability to completely isolate mission-critical data from external threats.
By leveraging Open vSwitch technology on Nicira’s Network Virtualisation Platform, we replaced traditional network bridges in our cloud network architecture and enabled software-defined networking for enhanced network security in the cloud.

Creating an isolated network
You will be able to create an isolated network by simply clicking the “Create Network” button when provisioning a next generation Cloud Server in the Cloud Control Panel:

You’ll then have the opportunity to name your network and create it together with your new server instance (or just select one if you have previously created it).

When can I get it?
We are gradually phasing in the availability of Cloud Networks across our cloud infrastructure to avoid performance degradation and to maintain an appropriate level of service and Fanatical Support. You can check if you have access to Cloud Networks in your Cloud Control Panel – look for the “Create Network” button pictured above when creating a new Cloud Server.

If you find you don’t have access to it today, you definitely will in the near future. However, if you’re as excited as we are about Cloud Networks and just can’t wait to have it rolled out to your environment, you can request access by visiting https://www.iwantcloudnetworks.com/ and completing the simple request form. We will review your request and provide you with access as soon as possible.

Please note that Cloud Networks is currently only available for new next-generation Cloud Servers at creation time. We’re actively working to enable Cloud Networks for existing, next-generation Cloud Servers and anticipate availability in 2013. In the meantime, if you are a next-generation Cloud Servers customer and you would like to use Cloud Networks for an existing server, you can simply create a snapshot of your server and then build a new server from that snapshot. Be aware that your server IP address will change during this process. If you are currently running “first generation” Cloud Servers, you can migrate to next generation ones using the new image migration tool now available within your Cloud Control panel.

What’s next?
We are taking Cloud Networks to the next level by adding virtual appliances and allowing you to create advanced, networking configurations spanning multiple regions. This is only the beginning for Cloud Networks and the open cloud at Rackspace. Stay tuned!

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