Rackspace Overview – Who is Rackspace?
Rackspace has proclaimed itself to be the “world’s leading specialist in the hosting and cloud computing industry“, fighting for that title with industry titans Amazon and IBM.
Prior to their shift into cloud hosting, Rackspace focused on managed hosting, competeting with companies such as Peer1, and ServerBeach, Rackspace’s own creation that they later sold to Peer1 and now compete against.
Over the years, Rackspace Cloud and Rackspace Hosting have experienced a few major outages, mostly due to power failures:
December 23rd, 2010 – Cloud host server failure.
November 2nd, 2009 – Cloud cluster failure due to a short in the PDU.
June 29, 2009 – Downtime due to range of power infrastructure issues.
July 9th, 2008 – Overheating when chiller did not start on failover to generator.
November 12, 2007 – Servers shutdown due to heat issues when chiller power was forced off.
The most difficult period of downtime for Rackspace was during July, 2009 when they experienced 3-4 power outages in a 30-day period. Rackspace made a detailed report of the situation, and even created a video of the CEO explaining what happened.
Commendable is the commitment by Rackspace to pacify their customer base during a downtime. Additionally, Rackspace Cloud has a status blog for customers to follow which provides updates and announces maintenance windows.
The Rackspace cloud solution focuses on three pricipal solutions: Cloud Servers, Cloud Files and Cloud Load Balancers. Each offering is managed from a control console, on an OpenStack cloud developed jointly by Rackspace and NASA (along with a few others).
Hybrid hosting is an emerging product that harnesses the cost advantages of cloud hosting with the performance of colocation and dedicated server hosting to provide a scalable solution that meets a base level performance standard. RackConnect is a solution that decides whether to run your application on a cloud or dedicated server, depending on where the best performance will come from.
Rackspace was founded around providing exceptional support to their customers, going as far as being proactive in helping their customers with their solutions. This fanatical support works well as a poultice to salve customer dissatisfaction due to downtime or error on Rackspaces’ part.
RAX Stock Growth
Since it’s $10.01 opening (August 8, 2008) on the NYSE, RAX has dropped as low as $4.54 (January 23rd, 2009), but with its emrgence as one of the leaders in cloud hosting, Rackspace has seen consistent growth to a healthly $40.00+ stock price at year-end 2011.
Rackspace recently announced at the Microsoft World Partner Conference that their cloud-based services will now support Windows Server 2012. Although they are not the first company to announce their support, they believe that their users will have a much deeper level of support and expertise than the others.
To make sure that they were fully prepared for the new service, Rackspace recently purchased
SharePoint911, a consulting company that John Engates, Chief Technology Officer at Rackspace, pointed out “has the deepest bench of experts in the world”. Thus, users can expect 24/7 support that very few companies have the ability to provide.
Windows Server 2012 will also play a vital role in Rackspace’s Platform as a Service offering. Starting with the 2008 version, the Windows Server service has allowed Rackspace to host thousands of customer websites on a single server, including all hardware and software.
The Tough Questions
How well will Rackspace’s OpenStack cloud platform compete against VMware, IBM and Amazon’s cloud platforms?
Has Rackspace solved all of their facility power and cooling issues that caused so much downtime over the years?
What is the future of Rackspace’s Hybrid hosting solutions?