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Decoding The Cloud

[ 0 ] Apr. 8, 2013 | lisacase

Rackspace—leading the cloud revolution.

By Brian Benson

(Caption) Rackspace presents options for small and large biz to get into the Cloud. Their exemplary customer support is becoming legendary. Said client Garry Prior, Co-founder of Taxi for Two, “Without the ability to run our infrastructure on the cloud we simply couldn’t afford to set up business.” Visit Rackspace.com to learn more options for your biz.

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The “Cloud” is a term that is used a lot lately. It is a little intimidating. But really cloud computing is something many people have been using for years without even knowing it. Every free email address service like Yahoo or Gmail is a form of cloud computing. It is a network of servers and software that is usually accessed via a web browser by the end user. Quite simple really, but, it can also get very complex. Which is why companies small to large can benefit from this suite of technology. For small companies and startups it can be especially helpful as many initial expenses can be greatly reduced. For large companies, the hybrid environment of services the cloud has to offer can help enormously for the most highly specialized of needs, as well as more comprehensive solutions.

A recent example of a large company aided by the cloud is Mark Cuban Companies. Mr. Cuban and his Mark Cuban Companies team were “shark” investors on ABC-TV’s Shark Tank. The resulting spike in traffic to their websites from the TV exposure strained their existing infrastructure. They hired cloud computer service provider Rackspace to upgrade the featured sites for large spikes in traffic and to improve the overall customer experience.

Today, Rackspace is also powering the corporate Mark Cuban Companies web site and working with many of Cuban’s enterprises with managed hosting services, hybrid cloud environments and storage.

Under CEO Lanham Napier’s leadership, Rackspace has grown from a privately held company with fewer than 100 Rackers to one of the fastest-growing firms on the New York Stock Exchange, with more than 5000 “Rackers” working in a dozen locations around the globe, and more than $1 billion in 2011 revenue.

Rackspace led the next cloud revolution when it open sourced the cloud. Open Source is a philosophy and approach to software design, whereby the software code is freely distributed. Many people collaborate and improve the ongoing software project.

The open age started with Linux. Next came Android. Then, Rackspace and NASA created OpenStack in 2010 and open-sourced the biggest platform of them all.  It’s called the open cloud.  It means you’re no longer locked in to the pricing, service limitations, or pace of innovation of any one vendor. It means you can run your cloud anywhere you want: In your data center, in Rackspace’s, or with any other OpenStack provider.  The response has been overwhelming with more than 800 organizations and 6,000 individuals are collaborating on OpenStack.

OpenStack has 200 participating companies including AT&T, IBM, HP, Cisco, Dell, Intel, Facebook, Microsoft, Red Hat, AMD and NEC.  It has been called the Linux of cloud computing and the best way for a company to build its’ own cloud computing without proprietary restrictions.

This has a lot of ramifications for all sized businesses, not just large enterprises. J.R. Arredondo, SMB product marketing director at Rackspace, explains:

“If you started a business a few years ago, you printed business cards, got a telephone line and an ad in the yellow pages but today a small business needs an email address and a website. However, most small businesses don’t have the technology skills or the staff to run these and as they grow, a generic free email account from Gmail or Yahoo may not look professional for their brand. Companies like Rackspace provide the technology they need, from hosting a wide variety of technological needs ranging from web hosting to professional grade email. And, as their needs grow, we can provide the technology to run business applications and the expertise to manage and run the technology, saving businesses from the pain to find, hire and train skilled professionals.”

Since its inception, Rackspace has been about helping businesses tap the power of new technologies. New technology advances are complicated and people have always struggled to implement these new, game changing capabilities.  Rackspace believes technology should be easy to use, so it built a service-oriented company and turned technology into a service.

Early on, Rackspace discovered the value of customer support in an industry that didn’t provide much of it.  The company decided to provide “Fanatical Support,” a point of difference that helps it to this day.

Rackspace has become the largest pure play cloud service provider and the second largest corporate cloud provider. Rackspace hosts customers of all sizes include Coca-Cola, Kraft, Steve Madden, Red Bull, Mazda, Newell Rubbermaid and Under Armour.

A recent study, conducted by Rackspace with support from Manchester Business School also pointed to powerful cloud benefits for startup businesses. By a large majority, 92 per cent of businesses that have started in the last three years say the cloud has made it easier to set up their business. Furthermore, over half of the startups surveyed (52 per cent) said they wouldn’t have been able to afford on-premise IT resources.

RACKSPACE AT A GLANCE:

• Headquarters in San Antonio, TX using 835,000 square feet of a former shopping mall.

• Nearly 200,000 customers, including Six Flags, Mazda, UnderArmour, Southwest Airlines, etc.

• Rackspace has been in business for 15 years.

• For more info, visit: www.Rackspace.com

Brian Benson is a Mac IT specialist, musician, photographer and writer in NYC. Email him at brian@webzibit.com.

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Category: Magazine, Small Business Opportunities, Small Business Opportunities July 2013