Rackspace Taps Akamai's Content Delivery Network

Expanding on its relationship with Akamai Technologies, Rackspace on Tuesday launched a network edge service built atop Akamai's massive content-delivery network, bringing the Web content and workloads it hosts closer to their consumers.

The Rackspace Content Delivery Network gives partners and customers access to Akamai's global network of distributed servers through the Rackspace portal. With access to network edges across six continents, partners and customers of the San Antonio-based hosting provider will be able to deliver Web content and applications faster and more reliably to more disparate locations, Rackspace said.

"The integration of Akamai's CDN into our cloud platform allows us to create an on-demand, utility-based, content delivery solution, which expands the Rackspace managed cloud portfolio," Rackspace Senior Vice President Steve Crusenberry said in a statement.

[Related: Rackspace Exec: VMware, Microsoft, OpenStack Private Clouds Are All Priced Same]

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Lane Campbell, a board member of Chicago-based Rackspace partner Durmic Consulting, told CRN the partnership with "the fastest CDN out there" is a great move for Rackspace.

"They can leverage a deep, pre-built existing network to better serve their customers' content, which gives them a big competitive edge," Campbell said. "Rackspace is driving more and more to the cloud, so the deeper integration with a high-quality CDN like this can make a big difference."

Campbell credits Akamai with having "done a phenomenal job of making the Internet faster" since its early days working with the likes of Microsoft and Apple.

But while the Cambridge, Mass.-based cloud company excels in technology, it lacks in salesmanship, Campbell said, telling CRN that Akamai is one of the most difficult companies he's ever tried to buy services from.

Which means the Rackspace relationship bodes well for Akamai as well -- having a partner that focuses on the customer experience should make it easier for small companies to access its content delivery services.

"Rackspace sees the industry trend that fewer companies are putting in their own infrastructure to run their applications. They've committed to leveraging multiple operating systems, high-quality support," Campbell told CRN.

And with the new service, the provider can help customers integrate a CDN into their delivery architecture, attaining world-class speed, Campbell said.

But the collaboration with Akamai might only be a stop-gap measure for Rackspace, especially if it proves a good fit with the market. If the CDN capabilities are a hit with customers, clearly filling a void in Rackspace's portfolio, there's no reason the hosting giant wouldn't invest in developing its own, Campbell told CRN.

"If this is a successful product for them, it would probably take them a year to get one out and scale it," Campbell said.

In announcing the new service, Rackspace touted its ability to rapidly provision CDN resources for customers.

During an early access program, according to a Rackspace statement, its CDN specialists provisioned 300 users in a single day.

"This integration can help users quickly turn on CDN capabilities, using APIs, through Rackspace and immediately take advantage of the ability to offload full Web sites and Web applications," said Akamai's senior director of Cloud Services Partners, John Sconyers, in a statement.