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Cloudkick Deal Turbocharges Rackspace Cloud Management

Just days after announcing a managed cloud service, Rackspace Hosting is upping the ante with the acquisition of Cloudkick and its cloud-server management tools portfolio. Serving more than 1,500 customers, a number of them from the more than 100,000 using Rackspace, Cloudkick helps administrators navigate the cloud world. Customers can manage and monitor their servers across multitenant virtualized servers and dedicated hardware, including hardware from multiple providers, within a single dashboard.

According to company officials, cloud management is a growing problem, with servers being used inefficiently or lost. Cloudkick provides cloud health information, as well as enables automation around deployment and scaling. Cloudkick's technology can even play a role in Rackspace's managed hosting business. The two companies have had a relationship for some time, but Rackspace believes the acquisition will enable it to provide better insight and management to its customers.

This is a good deal from a number of perspectives, says Phil Shih, senior analyst, mass-market hosting, at Tier1 Research, a division of The 451 Group. According to Shih, Rackspace has been recommending Cloudkick to its customers as a valuable management add-on: "I think that's an important part of the deal. They acquired not just technology, but development talent that's pretty good at what they do."
The new owners can not only bolt on technology that enhances the user experience, but can also use the new staff to develop its own cloud management and monitoring capabilities.
On Tuesday, Rackspace announced its first managed cloud offering, Cloud Servers, with a managed service level that provides customers with monitoring, troubleshooting and guidance on how to leverage cloud computing. The offering includes operating system and application infrastructure support, including: Microsoft Windows, Ubuntu (Lucid Lynx), Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS 5.5, Apache, MySQL, PHP, .Net/IIS and Microsoft SQL Server Standard Edition 2008 R2.

"This is less a game-changing acquisition than an improvement to the cloud monitoring value proposition," says Shih. "Monitoring is part and parcel of the cloud experience, and this is a great pickup for Rackspace." Shih expects to see continued, steady and incremental cloud adoption next year. "We see cloud as a very significant transformation within the industry, but if you're just talking about 2011, there is just going to be a lot more of the same as we've seen in 2010 as far as adoption."

Cloud growth may be incremental as far as the overall market goes, but it has been very strong for Rackspace, delivering the highest growth of its entire product set, say company officials. The economy has put a damper on everything, they add, but it has also opened up the eyes of the market to the opportunities of the cloud to increase flexibility and reduce costs. As they put it, the cloud is for everyone, but not necessarily everything.