Rackspace Announces Managed Cloud Services, But Is It Enough?

Rackspace recently announced details of a managed cloud service plan that gives customers the opportunity to take advantage of managed services for their cloud deployments. The managed cloud service plan comes in two forms: (1) managed infrastructure, which provides advisory services regarding infrastructure set-up and architecture; and (2) managed operations, which enables Rackspace engineers to access customer servers to tweak code as necessary. The managed infrastructure and operations offerings represent Rackspace’s attempt to differentiate itself from competitors such as Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure, both of which demand greater responsibility on the part of developers and IT staff to provision, configure, deploy and manage Infrastructure as a Service environments. The introduction of the managed cloud service pivots on Rackspace’s famed “fanatical support” by building on the company’s strengths as a leader in consultative support for IaaS deployment and management. Rackspace President Taylor Rhodes summarized the new managed cloud offerings as follows:

Our basic level, called Managed Infrastructure, offers Fanatical Support with much more managed service than do the more-expensive, premium service levels offered by many of our competitors. Our higher service level, called Managed Operations, provides even more managed services, up the stack into the support of application level — addressing customer needs that most of our rivals won’t even touch.

Components of the managed infrastructure offering include architectural advice, support for workload migration and scaling, launch assistance and round the clock availability of cloud engineers to troubleshoot and resolve issues. Managed operations additionally delivers support for operating systems, web servers, database servers, cloud databases, cloud backup and monitoring and user provisioning and permissions. Rackspace’s managed infrastructure offering is priced at $.005/GB, assuming a $50 minimum per month while managed operations is priced at $.02/GB, with a $500 monthly minimum. In addition to its managed cloud service, Rackspace announced details of an expanded program for developers and more transparent pricing. Altogether, Rackspace’s new managed cloud offering is likely to give it some short term publicity and inject new life into its ailing IaaS positioning, but the San Antonio-based company will need a deeper transformation if it intends to seriously compete with the big players in the IaaS space, particularly given that competitors such as Amazon Web Services already partner with other vendors to offer managed services comparable to those revealed by Rackspace last Tuesday.

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