Hosting firm Rackspace is giving its cloud computing services an overhaul, migrating to OpenStack as its standard platform and introducing new services including a cloud database, block storage and cloud-based virtual networks to bring its offerings on a par with Amazon Web Services.
Announced today, Rackspace's next generation cloud computing rollout is based on the latest release of the OpenStack project and is billed as the largest production-ready deployment of the open-source platform to date.
"This is a real milestone for OpenStack and Rackspace, it demonstrates that the code is now fully ready and you are seeing hosting providers of our calibre launching their cloud product set on OpenStack," Fabio Torlini, Rackspace vice president of cloud told V3.
Until now, only Rackspace's Cloud Files service was running on OpenStack, but the new Rackspace Cloud will allow the firm to do "a hell of a lot more," Torlini said.
Rackspace is accepting customers now for an early access programme set to begin on May 1, with the services going fully live in the third quarter of 2012, the firm said.
The new features include an update to Cloud Servers based on OpenStack Compute, along with an upgraded control panel that gives customers extensive control of server instances, allowing them to specify whether they want to bring up a server in the UK, for example, and enabling load balancing across all their servers globally, said Torlini.
Also new is Cloud Databases, a purpose-built database service based on MySQL, plus Cloud Block Storage, offering customers scalable storage with a high-performance option available using solid-state disks (SSDs).
In the pipeline is Cloud Networks, which will enable customers to define and manage virtual networks within Rackspace's public cloud infrastructure, a feature that is expected to give the platform more appeal to enterprise customers.
Rackspace said that customers currently using its Xen-based public cloud infrastructure will in future be switched to the new OpenStack-based services.
Rackspace also said it will use OpenStack for its private cloud services, whereby the firm hosts dedicated infrastructure for enterprise customers inside a Rackspace datacentre.
However, customers using the current VMware-based version of this service will continue to be supported, and Rackspace will also allow new customers to choose this option, Torlini pointed out.
The new services "close the gap massively with Amazon Web Services," he added, claiming that there is much greater flexibility and openness in the OpenStack ecosystem.
"The direction we are moving in is to give our customers more flexibility, so they can create their own cloud internally and scale out to our public cloud services, or we can create an OpenStack cloud for them on-premise or separately in our datacentre," Torlini added.
In a further boost for OpenStack, Red Hat last week became the latest company to sign up to the OpenStack Foundation, the independent industry body which is being set up to oversee future development work on the platform.
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