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Rackspace Hosting, arguably the second largest provider of cloudy server and storage infrastructure behind Amazon, has announced that its Windows-based cloudy servers are now ready for prime time.

The Rackspace Cloud Servers virtual server cloud and related Cloud Files storage cloud are based on development that Rackspace did in the mid-2000s in its formerly independent Mosso subsidiary and on two acquisitions - Slicehost and Jungle Disk - that the company made in October 2008.

Rackspace has invested plenty of dough in cloud infrastructure development in the past two years, and as The Reg reported last month, the company is collaborating with NASA on an open source project called OpenStack that will use NASA's Nova cloud fabric and Rackspace's Cloud Files to put together a cloud capable of spanning a million host servers and managing 60 million virtual machines on those boxes.

The Cloud Servers for Windows announced today are not built on the Nova code base, but rather the existing Rackspace Cloud Server platform. This platform uses an open source Xen hypervisor to support various Linuxes, but uses the commercially supported XenServer hypervisor from Citrix Systems to support Windows Server instances.

According to the feeds and speeds of the Cloud Servers, each virtual Linux or Windows machine has a minimum of four virtual CPUs allocated to it and reserved main memory and storage - no overprovisioning or oversubscription allowed.

The setup offers both public-facing network interfaces as well as private network links between VMs (for data sharing and high availability failover) and the Cloud Files storage service, and has snapshotting for server images.

Rackspace has been supporting various Linuxes on the Cloud Servers, including the most recent releases of Arch, CentOS, Debian, Fedora, Gentoo, Oracle Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Ubuntu. The company charges a three cent per hour premium for RHEL.

With the Windows-based Cloud Servers announced today, Rackspace can set up a XenServer virtual server running Windows Server 2003 Enterprise Edition R2 SP2 (either the 32-bit or 64-bit versions), Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition SP2 (again, 32-bit or 64-bit), or Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Edition R2 (64-bit only).

As you can see from the Cloud Servers price list, Rackspace allows much skinnier Linux slices than it does for Windows slices, and Windows slices are more expensive than Linux slices.

A base Linux slice on the Cloud Servers service can be as small as 256 MB of main memory, 10 GB of disk capacity with 10 Mb/sec of network connectivity, which costs 1.5 cents per hour, or around $10.95 per month. (Again, if you want RHEL, add three cents per hour.) Double that configuration up, double the price, and you can keep on doubling up through an 8 GB virtual system with 320 GB of storage and 60 Mb/sec of bandwidth, which costs 48 cents an hour (about $350 per month) running any Linux but RHEL, which bumps you up to 51 cents per hour. The top-end Cloud Server slice has 15.5 GB of memory, 620 GB of disk, and 70 Mb/sec of network capacity - not quite double - and costs 96 cents per hour, or about $701 per month.

The base Windows slice comes with 1 GB of memory, 40 GB of disk, and 30 Mb/sec of network bandwidth, and it costs eight cents per hour, or about $58 per month. That's a two cent premium for Windows Server over the non-RHEL Linux, which keeps doubling up as you double capacity of the slice. Interestingly, RHEL costs a penny an hour more than Windows Server on the Cloud Servers on that 1 GB by 40 GB disk server slice. But because the RHEL premium is a flat three cents regardless of virtual server capacity, Windows slices quickly become more expensive. The top-end Windows slice (15.5 GB by 620 GB disk) costs $788 per month.

The backup and snapshotting to the Cloud Files service is not ready today, but is coming soon, Rackspace says. ®

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