Rackspace prepares UK-based hybrid cloud services

The managed hosting company is to offer public and private clouds from its Slough datacentre, and is promising pricing 'at par' with Amazon's EC2
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Rackspace is to launch UK-based public and private clouds in the fourth quarter of this year, using its Slough datacentre to promise lower latency and compliance with EU regulations.

The Texan company will be offering a hybrid package of cloud computing and managed hosting, it said in its announcement on Wednesday.

"Many of our customers want to use both services together," Rackspace chairman Graham Weston told ZDNet UK. "Most people use the public cloud for non-mission-critical things. For enterprise purposes, most of the time companies want to use a single-tenant private cloud. An awful lot of people want to combine the cloud and managed hosting [so they can] use dedicated hosting when it suits and the cloud when it suits."

The company has been offering this hybrid model to its US customers for about a year, but according to Weston, there will be "new features in the UK cloud that are not currently available in the US". He did not specify what these features would be.

Rackspace did not divulge the pricing for its cloud services, which are scheduled to appear early in the fourth quarter. Weston did say that the company intends its public cloud pricing to be "comparable" to that offered by Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). "Our goal is to be at par; we're not trying to be lower," he added.

The company's small-business-focused public cloud will be based on the open-source Xen hypervisor and the enterprise-targeting private cloud will be based on VMware's proprietary vCloud. However, the company intends to make each setup available to both target markets.

Providing cloud services from servers located in the UK will answer "significant" calls by Rackspace's customers for regulatory compliance, according to Weston. European data protection law states that personal and sensitive information cannot be stored outside the EU.

"UK and EU customers want their data here for legal reasons, and there is no major cloud in the UK," Weston said, adding that more than a quarter of Rackspace's revenue comes from British customers.

Weston also noted that providing cloud services from Rackspace's Slough-based datacentre would mean lower latency for use within the UK, compared with the response times available from US-based datacentres.

The Rackspace chairman also hinted at a second European launch for the company's hybrid model, in Germany "in the next 18 months or so, hopefully sooner"

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