Rackspace has launched the final component of its cloud strategy, bringing it into competition with cloud service providers such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google.
Cloud Server, which went live on Monday, provides users with server instances, or on-demand virtual servers, that can be scaled up or down according to demand.
The other two components of Rackspace's cloud strategy are Cloud Files, an online storage service that came out of beta last week, and Cloud Sites, which helps users quickly load applications onto the web. Rackspace provides its Xen-based cloud-computing service through its Mosso division, which has been rebranded as The Rackspace Cloud.
Rackspace's cloud services are roughly analogous to those provided by competitors such as Amazon, with Cloud Server doing much the same thing as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and Cloud Files being an equivalent to Amazon's S3. Microsoft in October launched its own cloud-computing effort, the Azure Services Platform, while Google recently moved its App Engine cloud-based service a step forward.
Research firm IDC has predicted the cloud-computing market will be worth £29.5bn by 2012.
Pricing for Cloud Server is calculated by the hour and according to the amount of storage and system memory that is required. The cheapest option would cost $0.015 (£0.011) per hour for a server with system memory of 256MB and a drive size of 10GB. A mid-size server with system memory of 8GB and storage of 320GB would cost 48 cents per hour.
Rackspace's aim is to provide inexpensive on-demand computer services, the general manager of Mosso, Emil Sayegh, said in a blog post on Wednesday.
According to Rackspace, a variety of Linux distributions can be run on the service — as well as Microsoft .NET applications — including Ubuntu, Debian, Gentoo, Centos, Fedora and Arch.