Hosting firm Rackspace has added a performance tier to its public cloud computing service, enabling customers to handle more demanding workloads, including the option to have an entire server to themselves if required.
Currently available only at Rackspace's Northern Virginia data centre in the US, Performance Cloud Servers are due to be supported in the UK later in November and will roll out around the world during 2014.
Based on the OpenStack framework just like Rackspace's existing Cloud Servers offering, the new performance tier operates on beefier hardware, including Xeon E5 servers with up to 120GB of memory, solid state drive (SSD) storage utilising Raid 10 protection and 40Gbps network connectivity to each node.
According to Rackspace vice president of technology Nigel Beighton, the rollout of Performance Cloud Servers reflects a change in customer requirements that shows that cloud adoption is maturing.
"We've seen a change in what customers are trying to do. People still want to scale horizontally, but they are more interested in having the whole server a lot more than we initially envisaged," he told V3.
Customers are more interested in having the entire compute power of the physical server to themselves, so rather than scaling their applications across 1,000 servers, they are cutting it down to 50 to 100 nodes made up of much larger servers, he explained.
"The key aspect they are after is more memory or they want very fast I/O, and it is I/O for things like database and cloud that is really improved here. If you are running a MySQL or SQL Server or Oracle, these things bottleneck on I/O performance, so people are starting to look for gains in performance and they are not interested in sharing with anyone else," Beighton said.
This reflects a maturing of the cloud market, according to Beighton, as customers who are less interested in performance can subscribe to a cloud database service, while those who are serious about moving critical workloads realise that they need performance and the ability to optimise the infrastructure.
The performance tier is otherwise comparable to Rackspace's existing Cloud Servers offering, using the same application programming interfaces (APIs) to control and manage resources.
Rackspace declined to detail pricing for Performance Cloud Servers compared with the standard Cloud Servers offering, but maintained it would be "competitive".
Beighton said he believes that the next evolution of cloud will be to allow customers to provision what they require onto true bare metal. "We do that with a number of pilot customers using our private cloud service, and there is no reason why that won't be the evolution going forward for OpenStack clouds," he said.
However, one company already doing this is BigStep, which launched its Full Metal Cloud service last month.
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