Rackspace is known as a number of things. It is the cloud-hosting provider that offers personal service over and above that which the commodity cloud players deign to proffer forth. It is the cloud company with the unabashedly named Fanatical Support layer. Perhaps also it is known as one of the new darlings of the cloud world, with an arguably respectable growth and expansion record.
The firm would now also like to be known as one of the cloud providers who really looks at what software application developers need with its newly announced "developer +" offering, a new program for developers that claims to be able to offer the services needed to build scalable cloud applications. After 12 months, developers have the choice to then upgrade their account to a Managed Infrastructure or Managed Operations Service Level suitable for running the production version of what they have been building.
Which actual/tangible cloud developer services does Rackspace's service levels offer?
- 24x7 access to human cloud engineers
- Architectural advice
- Security guidance
- Code development assistance
- Launch assistance
Developers who choose to upgrade to the Managed Operations service level can choose between SysOps (classic Rackspace Managed services) or the new DevOps Automation Service. The DevOps Automation service level is not known as a cloud Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) service, but in many ways this is what it represents as it sits alongside the firm's wider (and also newly announced) "Managed Cloud" service model for delivering public cloud. The so-termed Managed Cloud services also reflect the ALM theme as it purports to give developers the help they need to design, manage, scale, and grow their cloud operations within environment “stacks” that Rackspace then integrates into central services like application monitoring and log aggregation.
Rackspace cofounder and CEO Graham Weston explains that under the Managed Cloud umbrella, Rackspace has rolled out two managed service levels: Managed Infrastructure and Managed Operations. Both service levels feature more expertise at lower total cost than companies managing cloud operations on their own.
Rackspace offers two approaches to deliver its Managed Operations service level to customers: in one approach, Rackspace logs into the customer's servers to manage and, when necessary, help fix them — the other approach uses Rackspace DevOps Automation Service, which manages a customer’s infrastructure as code, to help it (theoretically) achieve faster deployments and streamlined operations.
Customers on both Managed Cloud service levels will now receive Rackspace Cloud Monitoring at no charge. For Managed Operations customers, cloud engineers will also watch the customer's monitors and respond 24x7 to alerts.
Nigel Beighton, UK CTO Rackspace, has commented that (in his view) in an ideal world, cloud should always fit how organizations work and not the other way around. "Unfortunately, the reality is that all too often companies are unaware of the sheer complexity of setting up, managing, and keeping cloud projects running successfully. Yes, some companies have the large in-house operations teams to be able to implement fast, resilient cloud services, but we find the majority need much more than just the raw infrastructure; they need expertise and ongoing management of their cloud strategy that supports their business goals."
Rackspace's new developer+ program provides an infrastructure credit for a package of cloud services for a limited time. The firm insists that it empowers developers not only to experience Rackspace's offerings, but to also build and scale out cloud applications using the full Rackspace cloud portfolio, including the recently announced OnMetal product, which is available in the US at the moment.
For customers participating in the developer+ program, Rackspace will provide an infrastructure credit, which covers a Performance Cloud Server, a Cloud Load Balancer, Cloud Monitoring, Cloud Networks, Cloud Backups, Cloud Files, Cloud DNS, and built-in Email as a Service via Mailgun, for example. In addition, developer+ customers will be able to consume all other Rackspace cloud services in any region at the adjusted infrastructure prices without the bundled service-level rates.
Developers will have access to public forums, IRC support, online documentation, direct access to Rackspace developers, alongside a fully redesigned developer portal. Developers are eligible to participate in this program for up to 12 months before transitioning to either the Managed Infrastructure or Managed Operations service levels. The developer+ program will be available to customers in late July.