Rackspace Hosting continues to lease data center space, even as it extends its business beyond its own facilities, as seen in this week's announcement of its Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition. The new private cloud is powered by OpenStack, the open source cloud computing platform organized by Rackspace at last year.
The new offering provides Rackspace with an opportunity to build revenues atop private clouds living in customers' on-premises data centers or third-party colocation centers operated by companies like Equinix. It also allows Rackspace to leverage its focus on "Fanatical Support" and the growing popularity of the OpenStack platform, which hopes to become the "Linux of the Cloud." The OpenStack project now has 137 companies participating in its development.
Taking Fanatical Support Beyond the Data Center
"This is a first step to take Fanatical Support outside our data centers," said Rackspace CEO Lanham Napier. "We believe (private cloud) has the potential to dramatically improve IT operations worldwide. We believe that OpenStack is the de facto open source cloud computing standard."
Rackspace has published a reference architecture for OpenStack to help ensure compatibility and interoperability in the industry. One of the appeals of OpenStack is that it allows companies to operate standardized clouds housed in several locations, such as hybrid architectures connecting open stack implementations in both public clouds and in-house data centers. This setup provides the control and security enterprises covet, while retaining the ability to scale apps quickly through "cloud bursting" to public clouds.
"The customer maintains more control, with no software license fees or technology lock-in, and they can now rely on one company for public, private, and hybrid cloud management regardless of location," said Jim Curry, General Manager of Rackspace Cloud Builders.
Opportunities for Partners, Including Equinix
That creates opportunities for providers like Equinix, which was announced as the initial data center partner for customers building and deploying private and hybrid clouds using Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition. OpsCode, RightScale, Cisco and Dell were also among the partners announced by Rackspace. More than 4,000 companies house servers in colocation space operated by Equinix, providing a ready supply of potential users for new offering.
“We have continued to collaborate with Rackspace to make it even easier for customers to deploy OpenStack-powered clouds and ensure the high performance today’s cloud applications require," said Vince DiMemmo, general manager, global cloud and IT services for Equinix. "Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition represents a tremendous advancement in OpenStack capability and Equinix is pleased to be a data center partner to further increase cloud deployment velocity, enhance flexibility, and advance infrastructure integration capabilities."
Rackspace Cloud Keeps Growing
Rackspace will help enterprises run private clouds in production, relying on its knowledge of OpenStack and experience operating one of the world’s largest clouds. That cloud continues to grow, as rack space added more than 4,700 servers in the third quarter of 2011, now runs nearly 79,000 servers across its infrastructure.
"We're reaching a scale that few companies ever reach," said Napier. "We're in a perpetual state of expansion, and we are constantly looking at new space."
Napier says Rackspace will continue to lease turn-key wholesale data center space, a strategy which has helped it quickly expand its cloud footprint in Northern Virginia and Chicago, where it has leased finished space in data centers built by DuPont Fabros Technology. "Our intention is that we will be leasing space," said Napier. "It better aligns the spending to the revenue. That is going to be core to our strategy going forward."