Rackspace lays out its cloud computing roadmap: Think hybrid

Summary:Rackspace's Lew Moorman on Wednesday will outline the cloud computing roadmap to customers in San Francisco. The gist: Rackspace will push a hybrid approach that tightly couples dedicated and cloud computing resources.

Rackspace's Lew Moorman on Wednesday will outline the cloud computing roadmap to customers in San Francisco. The gist: Rackspace will push a hybrid approach that tightly couples dedicated and cloud computing resources. The theory: Customers will begin toggling between hosted data centers and cloud computing resources as standard operating procedure.

In an interview at CBS Interactive offices in San Francisco, Moorman, President of the Cloud Business and Chief Strategy Officer at Rackspace,  said that companies will increasingly meld outsourcing, hosting and cloud computing approaches as they build their IT infrastructure.

Rackspace's roadmap works well with its existing businesses---a data center hosting unit, cloud computing services and a software as a service email offering. And according to Forrester Research, only 5 percent of large enterprises have either implemented cloud computing or plan to in the next 12 months. Simply put, a hybrid approach is likely to be the norm for a while.

Moorman (right) acknowledges the reality. A hybrid hosting-cloud computing model appeals to "dabblers," he said. This hybrid approach will put cloud computing servers behind the firewall and tightly networked with Rackspace's dedicated hosting services. The raw materials are there today, but Rackspace needs to build the network technology to connect them.

When finished, Moorman sees customers mixing and matching technologies with the cloud. For instance, VMware and a company's database may live on a dedicated server, but Web apps and archiving might be offloaded to the cloud. The key is to make these platforms operate seamlessly. "When finished it (this hybrid approach) will automatically link your private network to cloud securely so it looks like one seamless network," said Moorman. Simply put, some applications like enterprise resource planning software, are likely to stay on dedicated computing resources.

The timing of the hybrid service launch is murky. Moorman said the timing it to be determined and Rackspace plans on building its own networking tools for its hybrid hosting/cloud service as well as using software from other vendors.

Among the other items on Rackspace's roadmap:

  • A Windows cloud computing platform. Moorman said Rackspace has been actively working with Microsoft to create "a fully supported Windows cloud service." Rackspace plans to host SQL and other Windows software and deliver it via the cloud. The timing on this effort is also to be determined, but Rackspace is hoping a Windows service with full support will differentiate the company from Amazon's EC2. I asked Moorman how his plan fits in with Microsoft's Azure effort and he said that they are competitive. However, Azure is more of software platform than Windows servers. Moorman acknowledged that "there's more tension" with Microsoft given that Azure may compete with Rackspace, but the two services will be different. "I view them as a competitor," said Moorman. "But I can't ignore the Windows community."
  • Rackspace will release its cloud server API to partners this month and the public next month. Moorman said the game plan is to allow third parties build on Rackspace's cloud platform.
  • And finally, Rackspace is looking at offering cloud file storage services such as advanced archiving, business file storage, sharing and backup. Rackspace is basically using the technology from Jungle Disk, a company it acquired in October.

Topics: Cloud, Hardware, Virtualization

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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