Rackspace and Akamai to speed transfer of cloud files

Rackspace and Akamai have entered into a strategic relationship to add content delivery network technology and other Akamai services into the hosting company's products, including Cloud Files
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Rackspace Hosting and Akamai have announced a strategic relationship to boost the transfer speed of files stored in Rackspace's cloud files service to consumers worldwide.

Rackspace will integrate services from Akamai to bring secure socket layer (SSL) encryption, Canonical Name records (CNAMEs) and content delivery network (CDN) technology into Rackspace Cloud Files, the company announced on Wednesday.

Lew Moorman Rackspace

Rackspace's cloud and chief strategy officer Lew Moorman has announced the company's partnership with Akamai. Photo credit: Rackspace

"Having independently served hundreds of Akamai's customers, we are excited to streamline the customer experience on dedicated and cloud platforms with the leading cloud optimisation services provider," Lew Moorman, cloud and chief strategy officer for Rackspace, said in a statement.

Rackspace and Akamai anticipate demand within the next decade for cloud services based around "feature-rich content, SaaS [software-as-a-service] applications and dynamic websites", Moorman said.

A CDN uses servers near the edge of the network to cache data, reducing network loading and speeding delivery.

Rackspace Cloud Files customers in the UK will be able to use Akamai's CDN to place their files closer to their users from 18 January. Akamai has a distribution network of 77,000 servers across 71 countries.

CDN functionality will be included as standard in Rackspace's outbound bandwidth charge, which is 12p per GB per month, whether customers use the CDN or not. File storage within Cloud Files is 11p per GB per month.

"Files marked as public (by customers) within the Rackspace Cloud Control panel will be automatically made available to the CDN for any users in the world to download from their local Akamai server," a Rackspace spokesman told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

Akamai Services
Akamai services will also be offered to Rackspace managed hosting customers "in due course, but not immediately", the spokesman said, adding that details are still being worked out.

SSL encryption from origin server to edge server will be implemented in the first quarter of 2011 along with "edge purge", which will allow customers to immediately remove content from the CDN. In the second quarter of 2011, CNAMES will be completed, which will allow long CDN URLs to be mapped to shorter, branded URLs, Rackspace said in a blog post on Wednesday.

Rackspace will also resell a range of Akamai site and application acceleration services to its customers. The hosting company has not had to upgrade any of its hardware infrastructure to be a part of the partnership.

Rackspace's cloud services are analogous to those offered by competitors, including Amazon — which runs Amazon Web Services — and Microsoft, which runs Windows Azure. Rackspace has nine datacentres worldwide, including two in the UK.

Amazon Web Services already offers its own CDN named CloudFront, which is attached to its Simple Storage Service (S3). S3 has the same functionality as Rackspace Cloud Files.

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