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Rackspace chases the channel with hands-on 'managed cloud'

Actual people will tend your numinous servers

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Rackspace has decided that cloud users want more than self-service and has launched a “managed” cloud service that will see it feed and groom its customers' cloudy servers.

The company's post about the new service says “We’re targeting businesses and developers who want to tap the power of the cloud without the pain of running everything themselves — and the expense of recruiting or contracting with experts in dozens of complex technologies.”

“When you don't have the right expertise, the right architecture, sometimes cloud can be a disaster for companies,” Rackspace chief technology officer John Engates told Vulture West. “We can do support and service and operations for companies.”

Outfits for which operations expertise isn't a competitive advantage are the target of the new service, which will see real, live people available 24x7 to monitor and manage clouds. Rackspace staff will be authorised to log in to customers' servers to do whatever is necessary to keep them humming along.

The company has defined two service levels for managed cloud. Those who sign up for “managed operations” pay $US0.02 per GB per hour support cost with a minimum monthly spend of $500. Those fees buy you installation of operating systems and web servers, maintenance of same, DNS tweakery, hand-holding any backups you set up and even maintaining user accounts as you request they are created or deleted.

A lesser “managed infrastructure” service costs $0.005 per GB per hour support cost, or at least $50 a month, and offers support and guidance, but none of the hands-on work. Details of both services can be found here.

The company is also offering an assisted cloudbursting service that will allow users to plan for, and receive assistance executing, temporary increases in cloudy capacity to cope with big online events.

There's also a new “developer+” offering to help coders figure out how to get apps scaling in the Rackspace cloud.

Rackspace is making much of the fact that cloudy rivals like AWS and Google don't offer managed services. It's right to do so, but also being a bit naughty because the two cloudy titans are happy for partners to handle the sysadminnery required to keep a server running no matter where it resides.

Microsoft's attitude to Azure is the same, as it is very keen for partners to get their hands dirty with servers in its wide blue clouds.

Managing cloudy servers for its customers is therefore not entirely novel, even if Rackspace's intention to do the job itself is.

The company is spinning the new services as a natural extension of its “fanatical support” offerings, while also talking up the automation tools it uses to run the Rackspace cloud as making it possible to delivered a managed service,

“We've been building that capability, in some some regards we've been building that for 15 years,” Engates said. “What we're essentially doing is adapting a lot of that capability to the cloud era.”

Those capabilities may well be more mature than those being built by channel organisations, many of which also have rather less experience of this stuff in the cloud than Rackspace itself. Yet management and automation tools vendors aren't exactly ignoring cloud-resident servers, so it is not as if the channel is unable to get its hands on tools that will do an awful lot of what Rackspace is now offering. ®

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