Rackspace backtracks over virtualisation

Global hosting company Rackspace has performed a volte-face on virtualisation. After having said last year that virtualisation was not yet ready for the big time and would not save people money, the company has decided to host virtual servers.

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Global hosting company Rackspace has performed a volte-face on virtualisation. After having said last year that virtualisation was not yet ready for the big time and would not save people money, the company has decided to host virtual servers.

Rackspace’s new virtualisation initiative will start with a dedicated virtualised server offering. The company said in a statement: "Virtualisation is the newest service offering signalling Rackspace's shift to IT hosting, transforming traditional IT functions into consumable services via the web. As more enterprises transition from purchasing in-house computing assets to leveraging service providers, Rackspace now offers a suite of hosted IT services ... including virtualisation, hosted mail, custom application support, back-end IT and storage."

This contrasts with Rackspace saying six months ago that 87% of its customers did not want to share a server with other hosting customers. It prompted the company to suggest that hosting providers offering virtual servers could be barking up the wrong tree, that virtualisation was not yet ready for the big time, and was unlikely to save its users money.

Now the company says that a recent customer survey found that 51% were not willing to share a physical server with other virtualisation hosting customers, and only 13% were certain they were willing to share a physical server with other customers.

"Our product development approach focuses first and foremost on Fanatical Support readiness," said chief technology officer John Engates. "We also ask 'Is the technology ready to use in a production environment?' We believe that our new virtualisation offering now meets these requirements ... giving customers a virtualised environment ready for mission-critical applications."

The company reckoned that it has nearly 300 virtual machines under its management, using the virtualisation infrastructure for internal IT operations as well as providing infrastructure for its spin-offs, Mosso cloud computing and Mailtrust hosted email. It is also offering a server consolidation service.

Rackspace will use VMware's Virtual Infrastructure 3 (VI3), whose benefits it described as "flexibility and scalability, as well as simplified infrastructure management with new data protection options and on-demand provisioning".

The offering will be based on dedicated physical hardware for each customer and will include the option of hybrid virtual and physical hosted environments.

Rackspace's Engates added, "Virtualisation is still an evolving technology, and we believe this is just the beginning for Rackspace. Our RackLabs research and development department plans to continue to work with partners like VMware, Microsoft and XenSource to make generational leaps in the virtualisation hosting arena. We expect future releases of Rackspace Virtualisation Hosting to include enhanced disaster recovery, storage and scaling capabilities."

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