Conversation with John Engates, Rackspace's CTO

Summary:Rackspace's PR firm contacted me and asked if I would be interested in speaking with Rackspace's CTO, John Engates, to get a technology consumer's view of the state of virtualization technology today.  I, of course, jumped at the chance since I usually speak with representatives of various vendors.

Rackspace's PR firm contacted me and asked if I would be interested in speaking with Rackspace's CTO, John Engates, to get a technology consumer's view of the state of virtualization technology today.  I, of course, jumped at the chance since I usually speak with representatives of various vendors.

During our brief conversation, I was impressed with the size of the IT environment that falls within John's area of responsibility at Rackspace. The company is managing roughly 30,000 servers hosted in 7 data centers around the world. The size of this environment would most certainly put management tools in general to the test and would overwhelm most management tools focused on managing virtualized environments.

John pointed out that Rackspace has evaluated most of the single-vendor and open source tools available today and found that they simply are not up to handling the scale of the Rackspace environment. Most of the management tools that are available today were designed to manage tens, hundreds, or, perhaps, thousands of servers. Tens of thousands of servers, on the other hand, would be beyond their scope.

So, John and his team have taken the approach of segmenting their environment and then using available tools to manage each segment. Rackspace developed tools are being used to orchestrate these tools. While speaking about the tools that Rackspace has built to orchestrate the tools offered by vendors, John commented how pleased with the management tools being offered by VMware. He commented that they were robust and well supported.

Although I wouldn't place myself in John's league and know that my friends will be surprised, I was happy to be able to add a few useful thoughts during the conversation. I was able to introduce John to tools offered by Cassatt, Hyperic, Novell and Virtual Iron. It appeared to me that one or more of these company's offerings might be useful in the Racksapce environment.

Although Rackspace's environment is different than that found in most large-company data centers today, it is very much like the data center these same large companies are moving towards. More and more of the time, large organizations are treating their data centers as internal "hosting companies." John welcomed a dialog with internal hosting company managers.

Thanks, John, for generously spending some time chatting with me.

How do today's management tools work in your organiztion's IT environment? Are they easy enough for your team to use effectively? Do they scale well enough for your organization? Are they reliable enough?

Topics: Data Centers

About

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He is responsible for research, publications, and operations. Mr. Kusnetzky has been involved with information technology since the late 1970s. Mr. Kusnetzky has been responsible for research operations at the 451 Group; corporate and... Full Bio

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