Rackspace Gives Cloud Elite Some Competition

By Dennis Barker

October 24, 2008

Rackspace Hosting took to a stage in Austin, Texas, earlier this week to announce its new cloud computing initiative. The stage normally is used for “Austin City Limits” concerts — a good fit if you consider that Rackspace wants to do for cloud computing what “Austin City Limits” did for certain types of Texas music: make it accessible to a much bigger audience.

Among the top managed services providers in the world (about 40,000 servers worldwide), Rackspace says it intends to use its capacity, expertise, experience and support to bring the benefits of cloud computing to virtually all. In fact, in its official announcement, company CEO Lanham Napier promises “simple, cost-effective products that everyone can use.”

CTO John Engates says the new strategy will give a broader class of customers the ability to achieve a nimble, scalable infrastructure that matches IT expenditures to revenues. “When we first saw the Amazon cloud, we thought they had a solid offering, but it didn’t strike us that it was as powerful as the cloud could be,” Engates says. “We started investing in our own cloud, working on it the past two years, and now we’re ready to take that power and make it accessible to businesses and even individuals. Most businesses we talk to tell us they’re not using the cloud because they don’t know how to use it. With the three new services we’re now offering, we’re going to make the cloud easier to use, and for a broader range of applications.”

The company will have competitors in Amazon, Google and Microsoft, among others, but Tier1 Research analyst Daniel Golding thinks Rackspace has several advantages. “Amazon sells books, Microsoft sells software, Google sells ads. Rackspace is a customer service company, combined with a good set of products and services,” he explains. “These other companies do other things; hosting is what Rackspace does. It could have a very outsized impact on the market.”

Furthermore, “Rackspace gets it in terms of cloud computing,” Golding says. “There are a bunch of ingredients you need, and they understand that. You need an easy on-ramp and fast provisioning and storage on demand. All of Rackspace’s services are available on demand, rapidly provisioned and ultrafast.”

The Power of Three

Rackspace is now offering three cloud services, all of which fall under its cloud hosting division, Mosso. Cloud Sites used to be The Hosting Cloud, Mosso’s original cloud. “This is our platform for sites that need to handle huge traffic spikes on demand. It’s where you’d put your Web site that needs to scale,” Engates says. “We’ve tried to make cloud technologies accessible and simplified for this type of customer. Cloud Sites is very simple to navigate, very straightforward to use.”

Cloud Servers provides hosting for a more technically advanced crowd that needs “high-performance server capacity on demand,” Engates says. To offer this type of service, the company has acquired Slicehost, “a leader in Xen-based virtual machine hosting with datacenters globally and very experienced meeting the requirements of big business.” Slicehost’s development team brings expertise that will let Rackspace offer new types of cloud capabilities throughout its portfolio, he says.

Then there is what you might call Rackspace’s version of Amazon S3. Cloud Files is built on the company’s CloudFS Internet storage service, but with advances by way of Rackspace’s acquisition of Jungle Disk. Jungle Disk provides an easy-to-use online file storage service that uses S3 as its backend but will be ported to Rackspace and support both clouds. “You can store a lot of data in the cloud very inexpensively, but the trouble is the cloud can be technically difficult to use,” explains Engates. “Jungle Disk makes it easy to set up an online backup solution with virtually unlimited drive capacity. You can drop files into a virtual folder and they magically replicate in the cloud.”

“Cloud Files will give customers instant access to enterprise-class storage, scalable storage, at massive scale, without investing in infrastructure. We offer an industry-leading service level agreement, and our pricing model is very competitive. Replicated storage starts at about 15 cents a gigabyte.

Later this year, developers will be able to blast Cloud Files content “to millions of end users around the world” via Rackspace’s new partnership with Limelight Networks, a leader in content delivery systems. “You’ll be able to share files publicly through Limelight’s technology. Essentially, we’re putting a strong content delivery network on top of our cloud,” says Engates.

Rackspace also announced a deal with Sonian Networks to port its cloud-based mail-archiving program to Rackspace’s cloud, and Sonian will provide archiving for users of Rackspace’s Mailtrust e-mail hosting solution.

However, despite the myriad announcements, Rackspace is not going all cloud all the time. “By integrating our cloud with traditional managed hosting, we want to enable that mix that needs to happen,” Engates says. “You will always have those applications that best run in the cloud and those that run out of the cloud.”

Customers in the Clouds

Expand your products and you can expand your customer base, especially when back it up with service. “We do managed hosting for 15,000 customers, and many of them run very public sites, the kind of sites that get a black eye if they go down,” Engates says, citing Marines.com as one he can mention. “We want to bring that level of customer service to the cloud. With these new offerings and acquisitions, we expect to open cloud computing to not just more businesses, but different types of businesses and users.”

He believes enterprises eventually will come around to hosting mission-critical applications in the cloud, and there always will be start-ups. As points out, YouTube built its business at Rackspace before being acquired by Google, and there are thousands of small businesses that do not want to manage their Web site and e-mail in-house.

“As we move even further into the cloud, we’ll attract more developers, some advanced hobbyists, and the lone tech guy in the Fortune 500 company who wants to do a pilot project and can’t get the servers he needs because of budget cuts and red tape. We bring the costs down significantly, with no burdensome contract terms,” Engates says.

“Now with the addition of Jungle Disk and simple, scalable cloud storage,” he adds “we hit smaller businesses, and even the consumer market.”

However, not everyone can take advantage of the new offerings, particularly users with high-performance or extreme applications. “We’ve talked to folks in financial services, pharma, oil and gas, scientific research, and they’re interested in the benefits of a cloud infrastructure,” Engates says, “but Cloud Servers is not yet geared toward their needs. It wasn’t designed for HPC.” Rackspace does expect the Slicehost technology to extend to a broader audience, though, and its ability to provision a VM in just minutes should appeal to companies that do not want a permanent grid but do occasionally need a couple hundred servers. “The cloud will be a great place to do that, and that’s part of our roadmap,” Engates says.

Rackspace’s biggest task in meeting its cloud objectives will be “getting the word out,” Tier1’s Golding says. “Educating IT buyers that they have another option is a big challenge, especially when no one really knows what cloud computing is. It’s amorphous. People are doing lots of hand-waving and not getting down to brass tacks. Rackspace is good at having products you can actually use. And, more significantly, their services are available on demand, pay as you go.”

That could be the ticket. “At the end of the day,” Golding says, “even if you work for a large IT company, if you’ve been tasked to find a solution, you’re more likely to use the one where you can just put your credit card down.”

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

IBM, Nvidia, Stone Ridge Claim Gas & Oil Simulation Record

April 25, 2017

IBM, Nvidia, and Stone Ridge Technology today reported setting the performance record for a “billion cell” oil and gas reservoir simulation. Read more…

By John Russell

ASC17 Makes Splash at Wuxi Supercomputing Center

April 24, 2017

A record-breaking twenty student teams plus scores of company representatives, media professionals, staff and student volunteers transformed a formerly empty hall inside the Wuxi Supercomputing Center into a bustling hub of HPC activity, kicking off day one of 2017 Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC17). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of a new generation of chips designed specifically for deep learning workloads. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Musk’s Latest Startup Eyes Brain-Computer Links

April 21, 2017

Elon Musk, the auto and space entrepreneur and severe critic of artificial intelligence, is forming a new venture that reportedly will seek to develop an interface between the human brain and computers. Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Remote Visualization Optimizing Life Sciences Operations and Care Delivery

As patients continually demand a better quality of care and increasingly complex workloads challenge healthcare organizations to innovate, investing in the right technologies is key to ensuring growth and success. Read more…

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

NERSC Cori Shows the World How Many-Cores for the Masses Works

April 21, 2017

As its mission, the high performance computing center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, NERSC (the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center), supports a broad spectrum of forefront scientific research across diverse areas that includes climate, material science, chemistry, fusion energy, high-energy physics and many others. Read more…

By Rob Farber

Nvidia P100 Shows 1.3-2.3x Speedup Over K80 GPU on Financial Apps

April 20, 2017

When it comes to the true performance of the latest silicon, every end user knows that the best processor is the one that works best for their application. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Adds Global Smarts to StorNext File System

April 20, 2017

Companies that use Quantum’s StorNext platform to store massive amounts of data this week got a glimpse of new storage capabilities that should make it easier to access their data horde from anywhere in the world. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

ASC17 Makes Splash at Wuxi Supercomputing Center

April 24, 2017

A record-breaking twenty student teams plus scores of company representatives, media professionals, staff and student volunteers transformed a formerly empty hall inside the Wuxi Supercomputing Center into a bustling hub of HPC activity, kicking off day one of 2017 Asia Student Supercomputer Challenge (ASC17). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of a new generation of chips designed specifically for deep learning workloads. Read more…

By Alex Woodie

NERSC Cori Shows the World How Many-Cores for the Masses Works

April 21, 2017

As its mission, the high performance computing center for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, NERSC (the National Energy Research Supercomputer Center), supports a broad spectrum of forefront scientific research across diverse areas that includes climate, material science, chemistry, fusion energy, high-energy physics and many others. Read more…

By Rob Farber

Hyperion (IDC) Paints a Bullish Picture of HPC Future

April 20, 2017

Hyperion Research – formerly IDC’s HPC group – yesterday painted a fascinating and complicated portrait of the HPC community’s health and prospects at the HPC User Forum held in Albuquerque, NM. HPC sales are up and growing ($22 billion, all HPC segments, 2016). Read more…

By John Russell

Knights Landing Processor with Omni-Path Makes Cloud Debut

April 18, 2017

HPC cloud specialist Rescale is partnering with Intel and HPC resource provider R Systems to offer first-ever cloud access to Xeon Phi "Knights Landing" processors. The infrastructure is based on the 68-core Intel Knights Landing processor with integrated Omni-Path fabric (the 7250F Xeon Phi). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CERN openlab Explores New CPU/FPGA Processing Solutions

April 14, 2017

Through a CERN openlab project known as the ‘High-Throughput Computing Collaboration,’ researchers are investigating the use of various Intel technologies in data filtering and data acquisition systems. Read more…

By Linda Barney

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of “quantum supremacy,” researchers are stretching the limits of today’s most advanced supercomputers. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Penguin Takes a Run at the Big Cloud Providers

April 12, 2017

HPC specialist Penguin Computing recently re-ran benchmarks from a study of its larger brethren and says the results show its ‘public cloud’ – Penguin on Demand (POD) – is among the leaders in cost and performance. Read more…

By John Russell

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference phase of neural networks (NN). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the campaign. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its assets. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

For IBM/OpenPOWER: Success in 2017 = (Volume) Sales

January 11, 2017

To a large degree IBM and the OpenPOWER Foundation have done what they said they would – assembling a substantial and growing ecosystem and bringing Power-based products to market, all in about three years. Read more…

By John Russell

TSUBAME3.0 Points to Future HPE Pascal-NVLink-OPA Server

February 17, 2017

Since our initial coverage of the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer yesterday, more details have come to light on this innovative project. Of particular interest is a new board design for NVLink-equipped Pascal P100 GPUs that will create another entrant to the space currently occupied by Nvidia's DGX-1 system, IBM's "Minsky" platform and the Supermicro SuperServer (1028GQ-TXR). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Tokyo Tech’s TSUBAME3.0 Will Be First HPE-SGI Super

February 16, 2017

In a press event Friday afternoon local time in Japan, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) announced its plans for the TSUBAME3.0 supercomputer, which will be Japan’s “fastest AI supercomputer,” Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Is Liquid Cooling Ready to Go Mainstream?

February 13, 2017

Lost in the frenzy of SC16 was a substantial rise in the number of vendors showing server oriented liquid cooling technologies. Three decades ago liquid cooling was pretty much the exclusive realm of the Cray-2 and IBM mainframe class products. That’s changing. We are now seeing an emergence of x86 class server products with exotic plumbing technology ranging from Direct-to-Chip to servers and storage completely immersed in a dielectric fluid. Read more…

By Steve Campbell

IBM Wants to be “Red Hat” of Deep Learning

January 26, 2017

IBM today announced the addition of TensorFlow and Chainer deep learning frameworks to its PowerAI suite of deep learning tools, which already includes popular offerings such as Caffe, Theano, and Torch. Read more…

By John Russell

BioTeam’s Berman Charts 2017 HPC Trends in Life Sciences

January 4, 2017

Twenty years ago high performance computing was nearly absent from life sciences. Today it’s used throughout life sciences and biomedical research. Genomics and the data deluge from modern lab instruments are the main drivers, but so is the longer-term desire to perform predictive simulation in support of Precision Medicine (PM). There’s even a specialized life sciences supercomputer, ‘Anton’ from D.E. Shaw Research, and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center is standing up its second Anton 2 and actively soliciting project proposals. There’s a lot going on. Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Startup Advances Auto-Parallelization’s Promise

January 23, 2017

The shift from single core to multicore hardware has made finding parallelism in codes more important than ever, but that hasn’t made the task of parallel programming any easier. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC Technique Propels Deep Learning at Scale

February 21, 2017

Researchers from Baidu’s Silicon Valley AI Lab (SVAIL) have adapted a well-known HPC communication technique to boost the speed and scale of their neural network training and now they are sharing their implementation with the larger deep learning community. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This