Devices

Rackspace Expands Fanatical Support to DevOps and Automation

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Rackspace wants to be your DevOps. The company is extending its support (dubbed Fanatical Support) to cover DevOps tools such as Chef. The new support will help customers automate their cloud infrastructure.

“This is simply an evolution of the fanatical support that Rackspace offers,” said Jonathan Siegel, product director, Rackspace. “It’s hard to find, recruit and train DevOps talent, so our customers and prospects wanted us to provide the expertise they need to automate their own IT needs.”

DevOps combines many of the roles of systems administrators and developers. The movement was  popularized at large cloud builders with dynamic server environments that required regular updating, which in turn placed a premium on standards and repeatable processes

Siegel said the DevOps Automation Service leverages Rackspace’s experience automating its own cloud infrastructure. The company launched 18 new cloud products last year, pushing code into production more than 2,500 times and running more than 15,000 automated tests.

While the up-front work needed to automated services is significant – the company has to deeply understand each individual application – over time the automation saves the company time, as well as helps customers evolve their operations to a more flexible DevOps model. The new service is applicable to small developer teams all the way to big web operations.

The DevOps Automation Service will help developers automate the process of deploying and scaling hybrid cloud infrastructure for fast growing applications, as well as help advance the adoption of the DevOps methodology. It will help devlopers and IT departments accelerate a project’s time to market. Rackspace says the service will also help improve the quality of software deployments as well as the ability to create more frequent software releases.

Automating processes allows organizations to provision servers consistently and free of mistakes that often arise out of manual installation and configuration.A recent Gartner survey estimates that downtime caused by incorrect manual configurations cost small and medium sized businesses $42,000 an hour, with figures in the six digits for larger enterprises.

“Today’s market demands the speed and efficiency of IT automation,” said 451 Research Senior Analyst Jay Lyman. “Rather than sacrificing quality or uptime because of avoidable human errors, DevOps methodology and practices of agility and automation can reduce human interaction with code and infrastructure, allowing development and other teams to focus on their primary objectives and business. This continuous deployment approach to infrastructure can accelerate release time and time-to-market for applications and features by reducing errors and test time and supporting DevOps processes.”

Benefits of the new DevOps Automation Service include:

  • Enhanced Infrastructure Automation: Enables customers to improve quality and velocity of software release, and to synchronize development and staging environments with production environment using configuration management tools such as Chef; collect application performance metrics (APM) to view code impact changes with application monitoring tools such as New Relic, statsD, Graphite, or Cloud Monitoring; build workflows to automate routine maintenance tasks using workflow automation tools such as Rundeck and Jenkins, aggregate logs from all devices to identify patterns and spot anomalies using log aggregation tools such as logstash; manage caching needs with tools such as Memcache, Varnish and more. Multi-server environments are now provisioned in minutes instead of the hours it previously took without automation tools.
  • Managed Services: Enables customers to focus on innovation and other tasks that add value to the business by allowing Rackspace to design, build, configure, monitor and optimize both the infrastructure, software stack and the automation tools.
  • Support for Linux-based technologies (Windows coming soon): Supports DevOps tools up and down the stack, ranging from application and infrastructure monitoring to MongoDB and MySQL database support including PHP, Python, Ruby, Go, Java, Node.js, Ruby on Rails, Flask, Meteor, MySQL, MongoDB, Riak, Cassandra, Solr, Elasticsearch, Hadoop, MySQL, PostgreSQL, Memcache, Varnish, Redis, Cloud Monitoring, RabbitMQ, ActiveMQ and more.

“Without this service, we would have to manage 24/7 operations, hire additional staff to perform critical work on our environment, and worry about whether our environments were always in sync with each other,” said Trevor White, chief technology officer, LeadOutcome. “With DevOps, we can take advantage of the extensive knowledge, best practices and experience Rackspace brings to the table. Having one company support both the infrastructure and the DevOps tools gives us more confidence that things will work the way we need them to work 100 percent of the time.”

How Does this Relate to the PaaS Environment?

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is another quick way for developers to get their applications up and running. This offering somewhat competes with PaaS offerings out there. Rackspace notes that a lot of customers interested in the new DevOps Automation services are those that have “graduated” from Platform as a Service. “The one size fits all PaaS is not proven for more complex applications,” said Matt Barlow, Senior Manager of Fanatical support. “When you choose a PaaS provider there’s usually some sort of lock-in involved. It looks like a black box. Our feedback from one customer was that they have outgrown the PaaS.”

About the Author

Jason Verge is an Editor/Industry Analyst on the Data Center Knowledge team with a strong background in the data center and Web hosting industries. In the past he’s covered all things Internet Infrastructure, including cloud (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS), mass market hosting, managed hosting, enterprise IT spending trends and M&A. He writes about a range of topics at DCK, with an emphasis on cloud hosting.

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