Managed hosting provider Rackspace has announced a series of acquisitions and partnerships designed to extend its cloud computing offerings and compete with Amazon's cloud-based computing and storage services.
Rackspace is to acquire Slicehost, which operates in the Xen-based virtual machine hosting space, and Jungle Disk, a cloud storage solutions provider which enables easier access for customers to Amazon.com and other storage offerings.
Both technologies will be incorporated into Rackspace's Mosso cloud computing brand in three core offerings: Cloud Sites, Cloud Files and Cloud Servers.
Cloud Files is an internet-based storage service which will use Jungle Disk technology to help it compete with Amazon's Simple Storage Service, according to Rackspace marketing manager Fabio Torlini.
The hosting provider also announced a new partnership with content delivery firm Limelight Networks, which will enable developers to distribute content more easily to end users around the globe.
"This partnership enables us to have storage in central locations but then replicate that content locally which makes it cheaper," explained Torlini.
"Cloud computing is not the de facto standard today, but it will be. We want to develop Mosso and offer a more comprehensive cloud computing portfolio."
Cloud Servers is a new hosting solution which will give firms of all sizes on-demand server capacity using Slicehost technology to partition virtual servers in order to provide more resources for firms in a more flexible manner.
Cloud Sites, meanwhile, is a Rackspace hosting platform formerly known as The Hosting Cloud, which offers pay-as-you-go pricing and an architecture built to cope with huge spikes in traffic, according to the company.
Vuk Trifkovic, senior analyst with Datamonitor, explained that the cloud computing paradigm is still forming, and that Rackspace's announcements will help "to shape the future of the market".
"There is a desire to move to these kinds of services [among firms], but Rackspace needs to concentrate on integrating Jungle Disk and Slicehost successfully," he added.
"Anecdotally I've heard these firms have a very vocal community using their services, so it will be important to keep these people happy."
James Carnie, technical architect at managed service provider eLinia, argued that the cloud computing model will become increasingly important to firms looking to cut costs and become more agile.
"With credit margins being squeezed ever tighter, the benefits of the cloud will become increasingly difficult for enterprises and SMBs to ignore," he said. "I believe that 2009 will see a surge in companies moving into cloud computing. "
"Not only does the cloud allow businesses to be more flexible, but it also means that the worries of maintaining an expensive infrastructure are completely removed."
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