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Rackspace Cloud [EOL] OverviewUNIXBusinessApplication

Buyer's Guide

Download the PaaS Clouds Buyer's Guide including reviews and more. Updated: October 2022

What is Rackspace Cloud [EOL]?

Rackspace is a listed company that specializes in hybrid cloud environments to support your applications and sites. The environments are based on its open-source operating system OpenStack.Rackspace Cloud caters for the private cloud, public cloud, dedicated servers, or a hybrid of platforms.

Your Rackspace Cloud environment is customizable according to your cloud requirements, and all products work together seamlessly from one portal.

Rackspace Cloud [EOL] Customers

3D Capacity, Acquity Group, Axios Systems, Behance, Blastro, Dominos Pizza, and Sage.

Rackspace Cloud [EOL] Video

Archived Rackspace Cloud [EOL] Reviews (more than two years old)

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Rajbir Singh - PeerSpot reviewer
Director - DevOps and Infrastructure at INTIGRAL
Real User
There is easy integration with multiple providers and third-party services

What is our primary use case?

It is a cloud associate that hosts our platform. One of our product applications are hosted on Rackspace with a custom setup.

What is most valuable?

There are multiple features that are quite good. The tech support is also good.

What needs improvement?

It would be nice to have more built-in suites compared to others. It would enable easier integration.

For how long have I used the solution?

One to three years.
Buyer's Guide
PaaS Clouds
October 2022
Find out what your peers are saying about Rackspace, Amazon, Microsoft and others in PaaS Clouds. Updated: October 2022.
635,162 professionals have used our research since 2012.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is very stable. It works 99.9 percent of the time. We are quite happy with it. This product is used to help broadcast football games' live streams, video matches and fantasy games, and it is used extensively. We have almost two million plus downloads, and during peak seasons, we could have 100,000 concurrent users watching 11 different matches. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

There are a few backend services which are setup in a way which are not easy to scale. We try to do dump checks, which are delivered on content. So, they are pretty much where our enterprise technology industry focuses. The back-end is really complex, with a middleware that could be scalable. The scaling depends on what part of what piece of navigation you want to scale.

How are customer service and support?

Tech support is very good, in terms of troubleshooting. It requires some custom integration setups and parameters for the back-end. Some metrics have to be queued for networks, as well.

How was the initial setup?

It was straightforward for us. It is not very complicated because it is a hybrid setup. 

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Comparatively, this solution is a bit expensive. When it comes to our future needs, there is a mutual understanding, and this is important to us.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We were also considered using AWS and Microsoft Azure.

What other advice do I have?

There is easy integration with multiple providers and third-party services.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
PeerSpot user
it_user702258 - PeerSpot reviewer
Gerente de TI at a construction company with 1,001-5,000 employees
This service works perfectly for us especially the support which is really efficient
Pros and Cons
  • "The most valuable feature for us is the support, which is really efficient."

    How has it helped my organization?

    The tourism business is seasonally based, therefore our infrastructure needs are variable. This service works perfectly for us.

    What is most valuable?

    We have been using:

    • Cloud Servers
    • Cloud Files
    • Cloud Sites
    • Cloud CDN Bandwidth
    • Cloud Bandwidth
    • Manage Service Level feature.

    The most valuable feature for us is the support, which is really efficient.

    I asked for support regarding perimeter security (firewall), installing certificates, managing DNS records, backup and everything about infrastructure. They gave very fast answers and suggestions for implementation.

    What needs improvement?

    We have local invoicing issues for tax payments. As Rackspace doesn’t have offices in Peru, it is considered a foreign provider. Therefore, we have to pay additional taxes for this service.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    We did not encounter any issues with stability.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    We did not encounter any issues with scalability.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    I would rate the technical support at 10 out of 10.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    Previously we used a local service provider.

    How was the initial setup?

    The setup was straightforward. I requested a LAMP Server and I got it in less than one hour.

    What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

    The service includes licenses (for operating systems, databases, etc.). Asset management is easier with services like that.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We evaluated AWS.

    What other advice do I have?

    Add the Manage Service Level.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    Buyer's Guide
    PaaS Clouds
    October 2022
    Find out what your peers are saying about Rackspace, Amazon, Microsoft and others in PaaS Clouds. Updated: October 2022.
    635,162 professionals have used our research since 2012.
    PeerSpot user
    Consultant at CBIG Consulting, SYDNEY
    Image backup is a valuable feature. It doesn't offer Elastic IP.
    Pros and Cons
    • "Image backup is a valuable feature. Even though this is a common feature, it is very helpful for us."
    • "It doesn't offer Elastic IP like AWS. And also we can't configure our server based on region."

    What is most valuable?

    Image backup is a valuable feature. Even though this is a common feature, it is very helpful for us.

    What needs improvement?

    • I found the elastic beanstalk of AWS very powerful and helpful. I think Rackspace should offer this sort of service.
    • EBL offers better ready application server configuration and much more advanced capabilities.
    • It doesn't offer Elastic IP like AWS. And also we can't configure our server based on region.
    • Rackspace doesn't offer databases/warehouses like AWS, RDS, RedShift, SimpleDB, and DynamoDB.
    • AWS offer a free usage tier, and Rackspace does not.
    • You can visually stop/start servers using AWS interface, which I found less comfortable in Rackspace.

    What do I think about the stability of the solution?

    There were no stability issues.

    What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

    • Vertical scalability is very limited compare with Amazon EC2, which offers many sorts of instances.
    • We can stop/resume/terminate EC2 instances using the AWS visual control panel. But so far, I found this sort of activity less user friendly in Rackspace.
    • Right now, we are working with Zoomdata. We can test/install Zoomdata in AWS EC2 instance with one click. This is a huge benefit for those who want to work with Zoomdata along with an AWS server.
    • Rackspace definitely does not offer these services for Zoomdata.

    How are customer service and technical support?

    Technical support has been good, so far. I would rate them above average, but not super excellent.

    Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

    We didn't use any previous solution. Right now, we are using AWS and find it very powerful and flexible.

    How was the initial setup?

    The setup was straightforward.

    Which other solutions did I evaluate?

    We did not evaluate other solutions.

    What other advice do I have?

    If anyone's application is small and simple, then I would suggest Rackspace. Rackspace is suitable for SME.

    But if anyone's application requires complex situations and an Enterprise environment to auto-scale, handling lots of services, with super control over your cloud server, then I would suggest AWS.

    Right now, I am working with AWS and found many advance features which do not exist in Rackspace.

    I am working with Rackspace for a school automation project which is running in Bangladesh.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    PeerSpot user
    VP of Product at a legal firm with 51-200 employees
    Reliable Service, lots of change

    Valuable Features

    Ability to quickly create reliable virtual servers. We've moved everything from gen 1 servers to new performance images. The performance flash drive based servers are very fast and have nice options for adding disk space. Cloud files have proven to be fast and reliable for us.

    Room for Improvement

    I wouldn't recommend adopting the first version of any of their new products. But once the bugs are worked out the services are robust and reliable.

    It would be a bonus if they could automatically move around virtual machines in a clustered environment. We've had several problems where another host on a shared machine is getting a denial of service or overloading the server and that impacts our instance. In that case they have no way of moving you to a different base server, you either have to create a replacement server or wait for the problem to be resolved.

    Use of Solution

    Five years

    Stability Issues

    Solution has generally been quite stable with only a few issues over the years.

    Scalability Issues

    The cloud load balancer product was a much needed system. Prior to that we had to create our own load balancer on a virtual server. Initially the cloud load balancer was not very stable but they've worked through the issues and it's much better. Now it's pretty easy to add in additional servers behind the load balancer if you need scalability.

    Customer Service and Technical Support

    Customer Service:

    All of the marketing is about fanatical service but in practice it's very hard to live up to those expectations. Most rackers are friendly and try to be very helpful.

    Technical Support:

    It's often difficult to get timely support with a ticket, they seem to live by phone calls there. Many times you'll get a tech who runs through a checklist and sometimes can solve your problem. You can usually get escalation if the issue is severe or really needs help. I've found the service monitors you can set up through the control panel are often ignored by tech support as just noise. If you need support, you generally need to call them.

    Other Advice

    We're using their managed operations - sysops currently and have used the managed service for several years. This is a good way to reduce the need for in-house system admin skills and time but in practice this hasn't eliminated the need to have our own staff monitor this area. I like the idea of Rackspace managing the sysops side of the app but they probably need a better way to transfer knowledge to their team. It's very generic support by default.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    it_user72771 - PeerSpot reviewer
    it_user72771Info Sec Consultant at Size 41 Digital
    Top 5Real User

    "I wouldn't recommend adopting the first version of any of their new products."

    Nice tip there.

    "All of the marketing is about fanatical service but in practice it's very hard to live up to those expectations. "

    In my experience (certainly the DB lot) they were pretty darn knowledgeable and proactive.

    it_user7836 - PeerSpot reviewer
    Developer at a tech vendor with 51-200 employees
    Amazon vs. Rackspace


    1. AWS releases new features really fast. This is obviously an opinion, but every time I turn around there is a new region, or a new database solution, or a new feature on the management console etc.

    2. AWS has had some stability problems last year and even now there have been some minor ones, but overall, if you use good management of your zones and have failover on your systems, it should not be a problem.

    3. There is a "free tier" to experiment with. So if you are not sure if you like it, you can boot up some servers for very cheap or even free.

    4. Amazon has set it up where, if you want, you can scale any portion of your stack. Starting with Route 53 for your DNS, moving to an ELB for your load balancer, going to RDS for your backend. I don't necessarily use all those services, but they are available to you.

    5. Good experiences with their support team.

    6. Nice variety of instance sizes and an easy way to mix and match your storage solution with your processing power.

    7. Many resources on the web to solve questions and problems.


    1. I have not had as much experience with Rackspace as I have had with AWS because early on I made this same decision and did not really look back. But I have been to some Rackspace meetups and what they are doing is really cool. Openstack (Rackspace's cloud technology that they are moving all their servers too and helped build) in particular will allow you to build your stack across multiple clouds almost seamlessly. Although there are technologies out there for AWS API integration with Openstack and Eucalyptus (AWS clone basically) is coming in as a contender (which is fully compatible with the AWS API) you will most likely be able to spread your stack across more clouds, public and private, with Openstack. For example, HP just released a cloud on Openstack. This is just my market guess, but if you have the need to be across multiple clouds, Openstack is most likely the way to go.

    2. Great support at Rackspace. The nature of the beast is that Rackspace is getting beat by AWS, but with that comes the intangibles that Rackspace needs to offer to compete. Support is definitely one of them. Price and speed on individual instances is another.

    Overall, Amazon has not disappointed me, other than the few outages they had last year and that really just got me more disciplined on how I setup my stack. Amazon also recently lowered their prices, so that was nice to see as well.

    I hope that helps, and I hope someone can give the opposite side of the story since I really don't have too much to say about Rackspace.

    This comment was originally posted on Stack Overflow here by chantheman

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    it_user8673 - PeerSpot reviewer
    Owner at a tech vendor with 51-200 employees
    Why we picked Amazon AWS over Rackspace and dedicated hosting

    Last saturday we switched Wedoist from Rackspace's Cloud to Amazon AWS. In this post I will present why we have done this and why we picked Amazon AWS instead of Rackspace's Cloud or dedicated hosting.

    Why not Rackspace's Cloud?

    We initially used Rackspace because we thought they had lots of experience and expertise in hosting. Now we are not so sure and we don't have a huge trust in their systems or their network.

    Our problem was that a lot of users had reported performance issues. Wedoist is used in about 50 countries and each time we debugged these issues they were from users that came from "remote countries" such as Brazil, Hong Kong or Taiwan. Having developed web-applications for a long time we were sure it was a network issue and even I could reproduce this issue in Chile. This was our main reason for moving to Amazon AWS: Rackspace's network does not seem to work that well in "remote areas" of the world.

    The second reason is that Amazon AWS seems to be a superior product that offers more solutions such as:

    Amazon AWS also seems to be in rapid development, for example, Amazon DynamoDB was released last week (and it seems to be an awesome database solution!)

    Why not dedicated hosting?

    You will get a lot more hardware by going for dedicated hosting (either buying or leasing servers). For example, if you read pinboard's article on dedicated hosting, A Short Rant About Hosting, you will find prices that are much cheaper than Amazon's.

    Here are our reasons why we didn't go the dedicated hosting route:

    Cost isn't everything:
    For us cost isn't the only thing we care about. Our focus is on building software and serving our users in best ways possible. Setting things up ourselfs would save money, but would require a lot more work, be more limited and possible produce more errors.

    We don't have resources to use multiple data centers:
    Some things would not be possible at all, because setting it up would be very expensive - - an example is minute snapshots of our databases that are stored in 3 different data centers and can be restored with a few clicks. Implementing backup strategies is complex, especially if you have a lot of data, and Amazon AWS saves us a lot of headaches in this area.

    We can easily scale:
    With Amazon AWS scaling up or down is easy: we can add servers, we can upgrade to bigger machines, we can downgrade, we can script everything so extra machines are added in the morning and shutdown in the afternoon. All this with a few clicks or a few scripts and in matter of minutes.

    Our focus isn't on managing servers:
    The bottom line is that we can focus on building great software. Using Amazon AWS is more costly than dedicated hosting, but our products aren't free, so paying for premium hosting isn't a huge deal.

    Amazon AWS seems to be a marketleader
    Amazon AWS has an impressive customer base that includes Dropbox, Netflix or Yelp (just to name a few). We feel in good company by being there as well.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user

    All the providers today have some feature differentiation among them each offering unique advantages, choosing a provider or more than one provider in a multi cloud strategy is a strategic decision for todays enterprises, considering location, cost and features that best fits for each enterprise's scale and growth.

    See all 8 comments
    it_user8670 - PeerSpot reviewer
    Developer at a tech vendor with 5,001-10,000 employees
    Rackspace Block Storage

    A while ago, Rackspace announced their own block storage. I hesitate to say it’s equivalent to Amazon’s EBS, them being competitors and all, but that’s the quickest way to explain what it is/does. I thought the feature itself was long overdue, and the performance looked pretty good, so I said so on Twitter. I also resolved to give it a try, which I was finally able to do last night. Here are some observations.

    - Block storage is only available through their “next generation” (OpenStack based) cloud, and it’s clearly a young product. Attaching block devices to a server often took a disturbingly long time, during which the web interface would often show stale state. Detaching was even worse, and in one case took a support ticket and several hours before a developer could get it unstuck. If I didn’t already have experience with Rackspace’s excellent support folks, this might have been enough to make me wander off.
    - Still before I actually got to the block storage, I was pretty impressed with the I/O performance of the next-gen servers themselves. In my standard random-sync-write test, I was seeing over 8000 4KB IOPS. That’s a kind of weird number, clearly well beyond the typical handful of local disks but pretty low for SSD. In any case, it’s not bad for instance storage.
    - After seeing how well the instance storage did, I was pretty disappointed by the block storage I’d come to see. With that, I was barely able to get beyond 5000 IOPS, and it didn’t seem to make any difference at all if I was using SATA- or SSD-backed block storage. Those are still respectable numbers at $15/month for a minimum 100GB volume. Just for comparison, at Amazon’s prices that would get you a 25-IOPS EBS volume of the same size. Twenty-five, no typo. With the Rackspace version you also get a volume that you can reattach to a different server, while in the Amazon model the only way to get this kind of performance is with storage that’s permanently part of one instance (ditto for Storm on Demand).
    - Just for fun, I ran GlusterFS on these systems too. I used a replicated setup for comparison to previous results, getting up to 2400 IOPS vs. over 4000 for Amazon and over 5000 for Storm on Demand. To be honest, I think these numbers mostly reflect the providers’ networks rather than their storage. Three years ago when I was testing NoSQL systems, I noticed that Amazon’s network seemed much better than their competitors’ and that more than made up for a relative deficit in disk I/O. It seems like little has changed.

    The bottom line is that Rackspace’s block storage is interesting, but perhaps not enough to displace others in this segment. Let’s take a look at IOPS per dollar for a two-node replicated GlusterFS configuration.

    - Amazon EBS: 1000 IOPS (provisioned) for $225/month or 4.4 IOPS/$ (server not included)
    - Amazon SSD: 4300 IOPS for $4464/month or 1.0 IOPS/$ (that’s pathetic)
    - Storm on Demand SSD: 5500 IOPS for $590/month or 9.3 IOPS/$
    - Rackspace instance storage: 3400 IOPS for $692/month (8GB instances) or 4.9 IOPS/$
    - Rackspace with 4x block storage per server: 9600 IOPS for $811/month or 11.8 IOPS/$ (hypothetical, assuming CPU or network don’t become bottlenecks)

    Some time I’ll have to go back and actually test that last configuration, because I seriously doubt that the results would really be anywhere near that good and I suspect Storm would still remain on top. Maybe if the SSD volumes were really faster than the SATA volumes, which just didn’t seem to be the case when I tried them, things would be different. I should also test some other less-known providers such as CloudSigma or CleverKite, which also offer SSD instances at what seem to be competitive prices (though after Storm I’m wary of providers who do monthly billing with “credits” for unused time instead of true hourly billing).

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    it_user371238 - PeerSpot reviewer
    it_user371238CEO & co-founder at a tech vendor with 11-50 employees

    Have a look at the other service providers - some of them beat the big guys by a huge margin. For example here are some performance metrics for CloudSigma: 25 IOPS/GB - beats all listed providers, with results 2 times faster than the fastest here. Source:

    it_user8592 - PeerSpot reviewer
    Owner at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
    Rackspace Cloud Users: Cpanel/WHM is FINE

    When I initially signed up for a small Rackspace Cloud server, I discovered the setup was 100% from the ground up. I chose to install Cent OS 6.0, but installation and licensing of cPanel/WHM was up to me - if I wanted to use it. I opted to do so.

    I read around the internet and found a disturbing quote that I believe was taken out of context. It insinuated that cPanel/WHM was not compatible with Rackspace Cloud Servers.

    I can tell you with absolute certainty, based on Rackspace's own response, and my own operational server, that is is 100% compatible. However, there are some restrictions, particularly if you have more than one server and are using their cload load blanacing. Also, if you wish to use cPanel's domain name management, you'll need to use your own server as its own nameserver (by registering it as a nameserver such as You must usually get your host to do this for you, they'll know what you mean.

    It isn't technically the best nameserver setup, but if your server is down, resolving it doesn't really matter much anyway ;p.

    At this point you are in full control of your virtual server, nameserver included. All of cPanel/WHM is too.

    Rackspace Cloud does have some client services it runs on its boxes, to keep the monitored, but I've seen no problems, and was told there was no significant problems in a response to a support request. In fact, I was told many of their customers use cPanel with a Rackspace Cloud Server.

    So, to set the record straight on this ... you CAN use it, no complications, but you do have to pay the cPanel licensing fee, and you should be aware of the context you are running it in, and that certain operations could cause them (Rackspace) to make modifications to system or service config files as well. I've not had a single issue though, and I've done quite a bit of toying around this first day or two.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    PeerSpot user
    Developer at a computer software company with 51-200 employees
    Technical problems, a solution and Rackspace cloud monitoring

    Some of you may have noticed that my blog experienced some technical difficulties yesterday morning.

    For some reason I couldn’t find out the IIS still served static files, but anything that had to do with code like this Blog, my TeamCity, YouTrack, Stash and Fisheye applications did not respond anymore. The sad thing was that I even couldn’t RDP into my VM, and so I had to trigger a reboot through the hosters web interface.

    What I really disliked was that I noticed the problem only when I wanted to log into my blog to check for comments and spam.
    To improve that I thought about monitoring my server or better the services it runs. So I asked Google to suggest some monitoring solutions that could help me out.

    First hit

    The first hit was Rackspace Cloud Monitoring. The price of 1.50 USD / month is great because I don’t want to spend a lot for checking my private stuff, but everything at about 5€ / month would be okay for me. The feature set described on their homepage was okay for me. What I really need is some service that makes a request against my blog and checks if it returns a 200 status code, and alert me if this is not the case.

    So I signed up for a Rackspace cloud account. After a few minutes I got called to verify my account and the guy on the other end of the line offered help for getting started with them. I really like this approach, because it really takes down the barriers.

    My first and single difficulty

    After I signed up and was activated I logged into the management portal and looked for the monitoring options. Guess what? Nothing there. Their homepage stated it should be easy to configure the monitoring through the portal, but I could not find an option.

    I tweeted about that and almost immediately I got a response with a link to a getting started video. Honestly, this was the point where I was really impressed. The Rackspace community obviously is very strong and willing to help. That’s great.

    So, watching the video I learned that I could set up monitoring for a VM that I host on Rackspace, but if I delete that VM the monitoring setup would vanish too. Nothing for me, because I don’t need a VM but just the monitoring.

    After tweeting about that I got this very helpful response:

    I didn’t want to use the API, because I actually wanted to easily click together my simple 200-check. So I tried out this labs-GUI.

    The setup

    I didn’t dig into the documentation before I started. Actually I thought it should be possible to figure out how to set up a simple HTTP monitoring by just clicking through it. The labs GUI is a very basic Twitter Bootstrap interface that just enables you to access the functionality. Right now there is no real UX, but that’s okay. ;-)

    First I entered an ‘Entity’. I thought this would be the thing to monitor, so I entered ‘Gallifrey’, the name of my server. Turned out I got it right. What I could do additionally is to install a monitoring agent on Gallifrey to have it send data about CPU, memory and disk usage to Rackspace that I could use for my monitoring too.


    For this entity I now could add a ‘Check’. I named it ‘Blog’ as I wanted to check the blog on Gallifrey.

    Here I could configure that this is a HTTP check, the URL to test and from which locations Rackspace should test this. I checked London and two U.S. locations as 3 zones cost the same as just a single one.

    Now, this check alone won’t help me. I need to tell the system what to do after a check and what are the error and ok conditions: Enter ‘alarms’.

    Alarms are the actual thing I want: A mail, whenever something goes wrong. The alarm is fed with the information from the check, evaluates it by rules I enter (the something) and where to mail the information to.

    I started with my status code check (see screenshot on the right).
    Status code alert

    For the check language I had to check the documentation, but the samples are very self-explanatory so that I had this check running in minutes.

    I then added another step that should notify about the performance of my blog. For this I used this check:
    (Go to my original post to view the code)

    The values may seem a bit high, but since two of the three check locations aren’t in Europe I have to take some transatlantic latency into account. These values seem to work, because with lower values I already got quite some mails warning me that the performance seemed low ;-)

    Noticing the alerts

    To be really notified I created an filter in my e-mail account that marks the mails with ‘critical’ or ‘warning’ status as important. This way I get notified directly because I don’t let my phone notify me of every mail I receive.


    Rackspace is very fast, easy to use and has a great community that helps you getting started in minutes.

    With just about 15 to 20 minutes effort and a current investment of 1.50 USD / month I have a very easy to set up and hopefully reliable monitoring for my personal blog. This way I can react faster when something strange happens.

    Disclaimer: I’m just a new customer of Rackspace and not related to them in any other way than that I’m paying them to monitor my blog.

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    it_user8586 - PeerSpot reviewer
    Engineer at a tech consulting company with 51-200 employees
    Amazon vs Rackspace vs Microsoft vs Google: Cloud Hosting Services Comparison

    Amazon Web Services, Rackspace OpenStack, Microsoft Windows Azure and Google are the major cloud hosting and storage service providers. Athough Amazon is top of them and is oldest in cloud market, Rackspace, Microsoft and Google are giving tough competition to each other and to Amazon also for alluring IT customers. This article give brief history of these cloud hosting service providers and compares the cloud services provided by them.

    -- Amazon Web Services --

    It's hard to find someone who doesn't agree that Amazon Web Services is the market leader in IaaS cloud computing. The company has one of the widest breadths of cloud services - including compute, storage, networking, databases, load balancers, applications and application development platforms all delivered as a cloud service. Amazon has dropped its prices 21 times since it debuted its cloud six years ago and fairly consistently fills whatever gaps it has in the size of virtual machine instances on its platform - the company recently rolled out new high-memory instances, for example.

    There are some cautions for Amazon though. Namely, its cloud has experienced three major outages in two years. One analyst, Jillian Mirandi of Technology Business Researcher, has suggested that continued outages could eventually start hindering businesses' willingness to invest in Amazon infrastructure.

    That sentiment gets to a larger point about AWS though - the service seems to be popular in the startup community, providing the IT infrastructure for young companies and allowing them to avoid investing in expensive technology themselves. But Mark Bowker, a cloud analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group, says Amazon hasn't been as popular in the enterprise community. "Amazon's made it really easy for pretty much anyone to spin up cloud services or get VMs," he says. Where is Amazon getting those customers from? Some are developers and engineers who get frustrated by their own IT shops not being able to supply VMs as quickly as Amazon can, so they use Amazon's cloud in the shadows of IT. "Taxi cabs pay for a lot of VMs," says Beth Cohen, an architect at consultancy Cloud Technology Partners, referring to users expensing Amazon services on travel reports. The point is there's a hesitation by some enterprises to place their Tier 1, mission critical applications in a public cloud.

    Amazon is looking to extend its enterprise reach though. In recent months the company has made a series of announcements targeting enterprises and developers. It rolled out Glacier, a long-term storage service, while it's made updates to its Elastic application development platform and its Simple WorkFlow Service, which helps developers automate applications running in Amazon's cloud.

    It has expanded partnerships as well, including with private cloud company Eucalyptus, allowing customers to create hybrid clouds that span their own data center and Amazon's cloud. Amazon has also forged new agreements with BMC and F5, which add on top of the robust marketplace of software applications that are already available on Amazon's cloud. More partnerships expected into the future could push Amazon further into the enterprise market.

    -- Rackspace --

    Behind Amazon, the rest of the market could be described as "everyone else," but there are some leading candidates to take on Amazon in the cloud and one of the strongest is Rackspace. Powered by the OpenStack cloud computing platform, Rackspace is positioning itself as the open source alternative to Amazon, and the company's executives make no shame in aiming critiques directly at its chief competitor.

    Bowker, of Enterprise Strategy Group, says Rackspace has a leg up on many of its other competitors because of its history as a managed hosting and collocation provider. It's been in the enterprise business before.

    Others believe that Rackspace's OpenStack involvement allows it to compete at the scale and capacity of Amazon. Rackspace is attempting to build a cloud that can scale to just about anyone's needs, says financial analyst Pat Walravens, and he believes with the OpenStack backing the size of deals that Rackspace is able to land will only continue to increase.

    "If Amazon is going for scale, cost and breadth of services, Rackspace is going for its services, including what it calls its fanatical support for customers," says Forrester analyst Dave Bartoletti. "They're really trying to make the play that they're the safer enterprise choice and with OpenStack, they want to be known as the non-Amazon."

    The open source aspect of Rackspace's cloud appeals to customers concerned about vendor lock-in, Bartoletti says. An open source architecture may give customers additional freedom to move workloads among OpenStack-powered clouds, although Gartner has disputed the significance of that.

    One Rackspace strength is its ability to roll out the latest and greatest OpenStack features. The latest OpenStack code, for example, incorporated virtual networking capabilities, which Rackspace has since rolled out, and hopes to advance the functionality of it in the coming months.

    There is a view by some though that Rackspace has married itself to OpenStack, perhaps to its own detriment. As the Gartner report on OpenStack states, OpenStack can be successful independently of Rackspace's success now that the company has ceded control of the project to a foundation. Overall, Bartoletti says Rackspace's involvement in OpenStack is positive for the company and will only help to position it as a leading alternative to Amazon.

    -- Microsoft --

    Microsoft is inherently part of most conversations regarding enterprise IT, says Bowker. "I've been super impressed with the level of knowledge enterprise IT shops have with Azure," Bowker says about Microsoft's cloud platform, which he says is still maturing. "People are keeping tabs on what's going on with Microsoft, so the company really has a halo effect on any conversation we're having with clients."

    And for good reason, he says. Microsoft owns a lot of back office IT operations for enterprises between Office, Exchange and SharePoint. Because of that real estate the company already has in the enterprise market, Microsoft has an opportunity to extend those customers into its cloud, Bowker says. Microsoft has been more aggressive than ever in recent months about encouraging customers and partners to join its cloud. Earlier this year the company rolled out on-demand Windows and Linux-based virtual machines and cloud storage to accompany its platform as a service as well.

    Combined with the release of Windows Server 2012 and Windows System Server this year, Microsoft is also making a play for powering private clouds behind a company's firewall. That will help Microsoft craft a story for customers to have hybrid cloud deployments all powered by Microsoft and its Hyper-V virtualization software. "Amazon doesn't have as strong of a play in the hybrid cloud conversation," Bartoletti says, which - combined with Microsoft's strong relationships with a large number of enterprise IT shops - could be an advantage for the company moving forward.

    -- Google --

    If anyone can compete with Amazon on scale, it's Google, says George Reese, founder of enStratus, a cloud management company. Amazon may have the largest scale in the industry, which Rackspace is attempting to match. But Reese says Google has a lot of data centers that are optimized for massive scaling, which is heavy artillery in cloud battles.

    Google's play thus far has been focused on application development and hosting. It got into the game with Google App Engine, a development platform, and has since - like Microsoft - expanded into the infrastructure-as-a-service space with Google Compute Engine, giving customers an on-demand virtual machine and storage service. It also has a consumer cloud-facing service in Google Drive, seen as a competitor to Microsoft's SkyDrive.

    "Google's not trying to displace Microsoft or Windows developers, nor are they necessarily trying to displace Rackspace," Barontelli says. "They're really going directly after Amazon on pricing and capacity saying 'Hey, we've got scale too.'"

    But Amazon's been in the cloud game longer than Google, and both companies suffer from a lack of perceived support for users. But the strengths of Google's platform, and its activities in the startup community, could make it a viable competitor in the cloud market.

    Disclosure: The company I work for is a Microsoft Partner -

    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user
    it_user271836 - PeerSpot reviewer
    it_user271836Manager, Service Cloud Solution Engineering at a tech company with 10,001+ employees
    Real User

    Nice article, would love to see an update based on where each of the vendors are now. It's been almost 2 years since the article was written, which is a lifetime in the tech world.

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    it_user6207 - PeerSpot reviewer
    Director of eCommerce at a retailer with 51-200 employees
    The new generation of Rackspace Cloud servers strong improvement over the first generation.

    Valuable Features:

    The new generation of Rackspace Cloud servers are a strong improvement over the first generation. Performance is improved significantly, and the new dashboard gives managers more information.

    Room for Improvement:

    I feel that the managed services Rackspace is known for have fallen off a bit. I had a few instances where techs on off hours made extremely bad decisions, resulting in extended site outages lasting hours. Make sure techs are fully trained.
    Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
    PeerSpot user