Rackspace Strengthens OpenStack Cloud With 'Cloud Builders' Services, Support

Rackspace is augmenting its OpenStack open-source cloud computing initiative with a new set of services, support and training options under the "Cloud Builders" umbrella that will enable partners and customers to better leverage the open cloud technology.

Rackspace last year changed the cloud computing game with the launch of OpenStack, an open-source, community-driven cloud initiative to which Rackspace and a series of technology partners like Cisco, Dell and many more contribute.

And to accommodate the increased interest in businesses leveraging OpenStack, Rackspace has launched the new Cloud Builders business unit and a host of services around the open-source cloud play that will offer training and certification, deployment services and support to enterprises and cloud providers from OpenStack experts and industry leaders. The Cloud Builders launch comes just a week after Rackspace unveiled a new unified channel program, the Rackspace Partner Program, which combines the four disparate partner programs Rackspace once offered around cloud computing, dedicated hosting, hosted e-mail and Jungle Disk.

Rackspace Cloud Builders will comprise the foremost OpenStack experts who build and operate the Rackspace Cloud. While a separate group within Rackspace, Cloud Builders will be closely tied to Rackspace's existing cloud team. Cloud Builders will also bring aboard team members from Rackspace's recent acquisition of Anso Labs, a professional services company that helped large businesses and government bodies deploy and operate OpenStack Clouds.

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First, Rackspace Cloud Builders will offer training classes and certification testing for designing, developing and administering OpenStack Clouds. And while Rackspace staffers will offer the training and certification materials at first, Jim Curry, general manager for Rackspace Cloud Builders said the San Antonio-based company also plans to bring a network of training and certification experts up to speed to offer training in their areas. Curry said beta training classes will launch in the second quarter with general availability in the second or third quarter. And by the end of the year Rackspace will train other OpenStack experts to begin training and educating others.

Curry said prices for OpenStack training and certification offerings are still in the works, but will be in line with similar training and education initiatives.

Next: Rackspace OpenStack Deployment Services And Support Will Create Opportunities

For deployment services, Rackspace Services for OpenStack plans to help customers design and deploy OpenStack Clouds. Rackspace's OpenStack technology partners will also take a deployment services role. Deployment services also open the door for Rackspace's channel partners to bring their clients on board with OpenStack Clouds and offer services around them, added Mark Collier, Rackspace vice president of marketing and business development.

The deployment services component will enable partners to go into environments and build an OpenStack cloud environment culling various pieces from OpenStack partners.

"There's a big opportunity to resell and offer professional services," Collier said. "A lot of the business will come through the channel."

Lastly, Rackspace is also offering ongoing access to remote support and escalation assistance from OpenStack experts, support that includes proactive monitoring and fixes. Curry said support and management will also drive opportunities for partners, as they can be the first line of support for OpenStack Cloud customers with Rackspace OpenStack teams on hand for secondary support.

Overall, Rackspace services for OpenStack will be brought to market as bundled solutions, system integrations and technology recommendations through OpenStack's alliances that include a host of cloud computing's biggest names, including Autonomic Resources, Canonical, Citrix, Cloudscaling, Dell, Equinix, Intel, Grid Dynamics, Microsoft and Opscode.

"Customers want to realize the benefits of cloud computing in many locations depending on their requirements and needs. The promise of being open, flexible and compatible makes OpenStack the ideal platform; however, they also want the assurance that a partner like Rackspace is standing behind them when deploying it in their own datacenters," Curry said. "We are ready to support OpenStack deployments anywhere starting today."

Rackspace and Dell are also working together to engage potential OpenStack customers in proofs of concept. For its part, Dell is helping customers bring bare metal servers into OpenStack clouds via a new software installer which Dell plans to contribute to the OpenStack community after field tests are completed.

"By deploying OpenStack based solutions quickly, customers can migrate workloads and applications to cloud based infrastructures more easily," John Igo, Dell's executive director of cloud software solutions said in a statement. "We've been a strong supporter of OpenStack since its inception and believe a de-facto open-source cloud standard is the right solution for deploying cloud technology."

When Rackspace first pulled the curtain off of OpenStack last year, partners wondered where they'd play in the OpenStack open-source cloud environment.

Along with the new service and support opportunities created with the Cloud Builders launch, Rackspace has said that partners and solution providers can contribute code, use the platform as a deployment target for client applications, add it on as a part of their software stack or launch consulting services around it.