Rackspace accelerates for the cloud computing crowd

The world's largest server hosting firm Rackspace is making a big play for a big slice of the cloud computing market.

The world's largest server hosting firm Rackspace is making a big play for a big slice of the cloud computing market.

At 6pm GMT it announced the acquisition of virtualisation experts Slicehost and distributed storage king Jungle Disk. It also announced partnership deals with Limelight Networks and Sonian Networks to provide more robust content distribution and archiving offerings respectively in the cloud.

It has also rebranded its offerings to boost its appeal to small and medium enterprises as well as consumers.

John Engate, Rackspace's CTO, speaking from Austin, Texas, told Computer Weekly that the deals will increase Rackspace's capacity to offer "secure computing on demand via the internet" to all levels of company and consumer.

Customers could hire as many "slices" of a virtual server as they needed for as long as they needed, or archive their favourite photographs securely "in the cloud", he said. New user interfaces made it as easy as drag and drop, he said.

"Today's announcement means we can offer reduced cost and risk to all levels of IT users," he said. Engate said the new services would launch in the UK within the next two quarters.

Rackspace's re-organisation of its brands gives it three cloud computing offers: sites, storage and servers.

Cloud Sites is its scalable web-hosting platform for handling huge traffic spikes with a pay-as-you-grow pricing model. Cloud Sites supports both Windows and Linux.

Cloud Files is its internet-based storage service. Targeting Amazon's storage product, this gives developers instant access to an enterprise-grade storage infrastructure with infinite scalability with replicated storage starting at $0.15/Gb.

Later this year, Limelight Networks will team with Rackspace to allow developers to distribute content easily to millions of end-users around the world. This will bring scalable content delivery and application acceleration services to everyone, he said.

Jungle Disk will port to Rackspace's Cloud Files system in the coming months while continuing to support the Amazon S3 platform. Jungle Disk comes in both desktop and workgroup editions across the Windows, Mac and Linux platforms.

Cloud Servers is a new hosting solution to deliver on-demand server capacity to businesses of all sizes. It will leverage key technology developed by Slicehost, which uses Xen virtualisation software. Slicehost will remain as the company's developer brand. Slicehost also announced new, larger slices for high performance computing, lower prices as well as IP-sharing for high availability computing.

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