Rackspace Hosting told customers Tuesday that it plans to shut down Slicehost, a virtual machine provider and hosting company Rackspace acquired three years ago.
In a letter to customers, Rackspace said Slicehost will be shut down "over the next year" to remove the confusion introduced by running two different products, Slicehost and Rackspace Cloud Servers. Rackspace added that keeping up development with two disparate, yet somewhat similar products was difficult. According to Rackspace, existing Slicehost accounts will be converted to Rackspace Cloud Servers accounts.
"As you know, after Slicehost joined Rackspace in 2008, Slicehost technology was used to power the Rackspace Cloud Servers product. With two brands, two control panels and two sets of Support, Engineering and Operations teams it has been a challenge to keep development parity between the products," Mark Interrante, Rackspace vice president of product, said in a letter to customers posted on the Slicehost Forum. "In order to prepare for the next set of advancements in Cloud Computing, driven by the industry changing shifts I mentioned above, we will convert current Slicehost accounts to Rackspace Cloud Servers accounts over the next year."
Rackspace could not be reached for immediate comment.
In the letter, Interrante also cited "tectonic shifts happening in IT," such as the Internet's move from IPv4 to IPv6 and the openness and collaboration in the creation and consumption of IT, for influencing Rackspace's decision to severe Slicehost. Rackspace has been heavily promoting its role in the OpenStack open source cloud computing project, which falls in with the shift toward openness.
"Converting from Slicehost accounts to Rackspace Cloud Servers accounts will enable you to prepare for IPv6, and give you access to Cloud Files, the Cloud Files CDN Powered by Akamai, and Cloud Load Balancers," Interrante wrote.
Interrante called killing Slicehost a difficult decision, but said there has been extensive planning and more planning is on the horizon to ensure a seamless handoff from Slicehost to Cloud Servers.
"I understand this is big news, and I want to give us a chance to discuss it over the coming weeks and months. I will make certain that information is communicated to you," Interrante concluded.
Reactions to the Slicehost slice were mixed. Some Slicehost customers are upset by the Slicehost shut down and are worried about the migration to Rackspace Cloud Servers and the costs involved.
"I moved an important Web site of mine to Slicehost a couple of months ago after checking out Rackspace's prices and finding them outrageous," one user wrote in a Slicehost Forum. "Now today, in a cheerful e-mail, I hear that my Slicehost account is going to be 'migrated' to the same ridiculously expensive service I have already rejected."
Meanwhile, other Slicehost users praised the move and welcomed the transition to Cloud Servers.
"All I can say is 'move me first!'" one Slicehost customer commented. "We've already started using Cloud Servers on some of our new servers and recommended them for clients. It's superior to Slicehost in a number of ways, and as another poster said, the cost might end up being cheaper for you if you don't use much bandwidth. We were already planning to move our remaining Slicehost server, so this is good news to us, especially if it is handled for us. My only request is that they add it to our existing Rackspace account so we can manage it with our other servers."
Rackspace acquired Slicehost in October 2008. At the same time, Rackspace also acquired JungleDisk, an online backup service.
Slicehost gave Rackspace the ability to offer developers "slices" of Xen-based virtual servers that are cheaper and easier to use than traditional dedicated servers. The acquisition, coupled with the JungleDisk storage buy, was seen as a direct swipe at Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Simple Storage Service (S3) cloud offerings.