Rackspace vs Windows Azure

Rackspace Cloud offers four hosting products: Cloud Servers for on-demand computing power; Cloud Sites for robust web hosting; Cloud Load Balancers for easy, on-demand load balancing and high availability; and Cloud Files for elastic online file storage and CDN.Rackspace Cloud hosting customers never need to worry about buying new hardware to meet increasing traffic demands or huge traffic spikes.
Windows Azure
Windows Azure is an open and flexible cloud platform that enables you to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across a global network of Microsoft-managed datacenters. You can build applications using any language, tool or framework. And you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.

Latest news about Rackspace and Windows Azure:

13.04.17. Microsoft launches new tools to help enterprises move to its Azure cloud. Microsoft says that 80 percent of the companies it talks to want to use a hybrid cloud approach and to help them move to its cloud platform Azure, the company is launching a number of new tools. The most important of these is the new Cloud Migration Assessment service. With this, companies can scan their existing IT infrastructure and get an estimate for what it would cost to move these services to Azure (and how much they could save in the process). Azure users can now also get a discount for moving their Windows Server licenses (with Software Assurance) to Azure. This new Azure Hybrid Use Benefit can save them up to 40 percent and is obviously meant to make it more attractive for existing Windows Server users to move their workloads to the cloud. For those who want to make that move, the Azure Site Recovery (ASR) tool is also getting a minor update. This service is mostly meant to help enterprises orchestrate their disaster recovery plans, however, it can also be used to migrate existing virtual machines to Azure.

03.05.16. Rackspace adds cloud optimization platform to its private cloud. Rackspace partnered with AppFormix to bring its cloud monitoring and performance optimization tools to its private OpenStack cloud. This will give Rackspace customers access to AppFormix’s real-time monitoring, analytics and optimization tools (and Rackspace’s engineers will also use these to manage cloud for their customers). For RackSpace, this is a somewhat unusual move. The company typically builds its own tools for managing the technical side of its cloud businesses (and it was the founding member of the OpenStack project, together with NASA).

25.10.14. Following SAP and Oracle, IBM jumps to Microsoft Azure. Microsoft already partnered with SAP and Oracle on its cloud-computing platform. And now IBM becomes the latest partner in Microsoft's enterprise software layer. According to the deal, companies will make IBM middleware such as WebSphere Liberty, MQ, and DB2 available on Microsoft Azure. Windows Server and SQL Server will be offered on IBM Cloud. Microsoft .NET runtime will become available for IBM’s Bluemix cloud development platform. So, now Microsoft can boast about having the Big Four on its cloud platform for enterprises.

21.10.14. Microsoft Azure appliance makes comeback. Microsoft is launching a new Azure appliance that companies or service providers can deploy in their own data centers. Called the Cloud Platform System, the new appliance will run the same Azure APIs, services, hypervisor, and everything as the Azure public cloud and will be able to connect easily to the Azure public cloud. The appliance is especially interesting considering Microsoft’s previous dabbling into the idea of Azure appliances. It has previously floated the idea of selling appliances to a few large service provider partners such as HP, and even launched a program to help web hosts to launch their own versions of Azure. Both of them appear to have fallen along the wayside for various business and technological reasons, but now the appliance is back.

15.10.14. Microsoft and Docker team up to make containers play nice on Windows Server and Azure. Microsoft and Docker are partnering up to ensure that Docker’s container technology will be fully compatible with the next release of Windows Server. Through this partnership, developers will have a native version of the Docker engine running inside Windows. While Microsoft has previously enabled the use of Docker on its Azure cloud, developers had to do a series of tasks to get containers up and running. Now, it will be much easier for developers to spin up Docker containers on Azure without having to do any modifications as they’ll will be able to access the Docker Hub within the Azure management portal.

08.10.14. Rackspace will sell and manage Google Apps. Cloud provider Rackspace will now sell and support Google Apps for Work to business customers, just like it already resells and supports hosted Exchange and Sharepoint for business customers. Google Apps for Work  sold directly starts at $5 per user per month with 30 GB of online storage. A version with unlimited storage is $10 per user per month. Rackspace will charge $10 per user per month for basic and $15 per month for unlimited. That extra $5 gets you Rackspace’s claimed “fanatical support” which includes help with provisioning, security configuration, device management and help with migration issues and account management.

27.09.14. Rackspace guarantees 99.99% uptime of private cloud. Rackspace is so confident with the new release of its private cloud software on its cloud computing open source OpenStack creation, that it's guaranteeing success for enterprise workload production. Rackspace debuted its private cloud in the summer of 2013, and now beefed up its offering with a 99.99 percent OpenStack API uptime guarantee, increased scalability to hundreds of nodes and DevOps automation services for application lifecycle management. Recently Rackspace can't compete with Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Cloud and Microsoft Azure that can afford to provide much lower pricing, so Rackspace tries to use momentum through its private cloud.

30.08.14. Microsoft Azure now also supports Google's Kubernetes. Few days ago we reported that VMWares's vCloud added support for Google's open-source container technology Kubernetes, and now Microsoft is also supporting it on the company’s Azure cloud platform. For two companies, Google and Microsoft, not historically known for their open source work, that’s quite surprising. But thus they’re trying to steal market share from Amazon Web Services, by allowing cloud developers move relatively easily among cloud platforms and retain the same general experience of launching and managing applications. Besides Google, Microsoft and VMWare this technology was also recently supported by Red Hat and IBM, so it's likely to become the de facto standard for cloud platforms.

22.08.14. Microsoft unveils Azure DocumentDB, a NoSQL database as a service. Microsoft is expanding its Azure platform again, this time rolling out a NoSQL database service Azure DocumentDB. As far as other cloud-provider-developed services go, DocumentDB sounds a lot more like Google’s similarly understated Cloud Datastore service than it does Amazon Web Services’ DynamoDB, which is actually more like a key-value store than a document database. Additional new products as part of the new Microsoft Data Platform include Azure Search and fully managed HBase as part of Microsoft’s HDInsight Hadoop service. It’s the kind of innovation Microsoft needs to focus on if it’s going to lure new developers and really compete in the cloud.

18.08.14. Microsoft improves Windows Azure security with enhanced encryption. Microsoft is enhancing the encryption of data transfers between users and the Azure cloud guest operating systems.  The encryption improvements, which apply to Microsoft Azure cipher solution for hosted guest virtual machines, gives users better and more secure connections during the transmission of data. The new enhancements apply to the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which makes it harder to decrypt connections and information going across such connections. This follows  recent moves by Google to secure and encrypt emails and encryption upgrades for Outlook.com and OneDrive. Besides, last year, Google also announced that users’ data that is placed in its Cloud Storage system will be encrypted by default.

18.06.14. Microsoft unveiled Artificial Intelligence platform on top of Windows Azure. Remember how in the book "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" people were constantly giving super-smart robot Marvin very simple instructions, and because of this he was always in depression. The same problem is with Cloud Computing. The main function of Cloud Computing today is simple data storage. We put data to the Cloud, and then access it. That's all. But soon the situation will change and the Cloud will start thinking. IT giants are becoming serious about intelligent data processing technologies. IBM created Watson. Google acquired DeepMind. And now Microsoft introducing Azure Machine Learning - the cloud platform which developers can use to quickly create applications for predicting the future. For example, these apps can help traders to buy only those products that will be demanded, or help manufacturers fix the equipment before it breaks.

07.04.14. Don't like cloud pricing? Wait a minute. According to the latest news, you need to wait just around 5 days before prices of cloud computing services will substantially drop. On March 26 Google announced price cut for Google Compute Engine (by 32%)  and Google App Engine (by 30%). And the cost of Google's cloud storage was reduced by as much as 68% (up to $0,026 per month per 1 GB). In 24 hours, Amazon responded - reduced the price of EC2 virtual machines by 30-40%, and the cost of S3 data storage - by 60% (down to $0,024 per gigabyte). Microsoft was very busy in recent days, so it reacted only after 5 days. Microsoft cut Windows Azure prices so that they were either identical or slightly lower than Amazon's. These three providers (Amazon, Microsoft and Google) reduce the cloud pricing so often that other players (IBM, Oracle, Rackspace, HP) simply can't take part in this cloud arms race, and the open cloud platform OpenStack also can't get the considerable market share.

04.02.14. Satya Nadella - new Microsoft CEO. So, from now instead of the showman Steve Ballmer, techie-guy Satya Nadella will rule Microsoft. This video - his first interview as CEO. Nandelle is 46 years old, from which 22 years he worked at Microsoft. Before this appointment, Satya Nadella led the Cloud and Enterprise department. His time at MS oversaw a period of huge growth for Microsoft Business Services, too, growing that segment of the business from a $1.5 billion slice of pie to a $5 billion segment in just five years’ time. He was involved in the development of Windows Azure, Office 365 , Bing, SkyDrive, Xbox Live, Skype and Dynamics. In his first email to employees Nandella noted that Microsoft, primarily, should reimagine its mobile and cloud strategy. By the way, Bill Gates now leaves the Microsoft chairman position and (in his free time) will advise Nadella on the future technologies.

31.01.14. Amazon and Microsoft drop cloud prices. Cloud computing is becoming cheaper and cheaper. So, if you once (for example, a year ago) calculated whether it was cost-effective to migrate your IT infrastructure to the cloud and decided that it was still expensive, then recalculate again. Since then, cloud platform reduced prices two or three times. Another round of happening now. Since tomorrow  Amazon S3 cloud storage pricing will decrease by 6-22 % (depending on the used space), and the cost of cloud server hard drives (Amazon EBS) will fall by 50%. And a month later Microsoft's cloud platform Windows Azure  will reduce its prices by 20% to keep them a little lower than Amazon's. So think once again, why buy an in-house server if the cost of the cloud tends to zero.

17.01.14. Salesforce ahead of Microsoft and Google on the Enterprise PaaS market. Analytical company Gartner published the new Magic Quadrant for aPaaS providers. What is aPaaS? It's the PaaS platform for Enterprise. I.e. these are cloud services for building and running business applications (but not games and social things). So, the first place on this market (with the big advantage) is taken by Salesforce with its platforms Force.com (now called Salesforce1 Platform) and Heroku. The second place goes to ... Microsoft with its Windows Azure. And the third place is occupied by Google with its Google App Engine. Other participants are crowded behind these three giants. Surprising is the absence of Amazon, which equipped its platform with PaaS tools for simple hosting of business applications.

2013. Microsoft pushing Cloud OS. As you know, Microsoft's Windows Azure is the leader in cloud platform market. It's just one of several options along with Amazon Web Services, Google Compute Engine, OpenStack, VMWare vCloud. This situation is very frustrating for Microsoft, which used to be the exclusive platform (OS) vendor. Therefore, Microsoft is coming up with a new thing - Cloud OS. This is not a specific product, but rather a marketing term incorporating several systems: first of all Windows Azure, Windows Server and System Center. The idea is that the Cloud (the legendary thing that stores and processes data) is usually located not in the farm of specific provider (Amazon, Google or Microsoft). It also lives in a rented or own Internet servers and in the office (on local servers). Depending on task, budget and security requirements, each company may choose on where to host data and applications.

2012. Microsoft to push Windows Azure via service-providers. So where is the truth? As you know, Microsoft recently blowed off its longtime PC manufacturing partners by producing own Surface-tablet. But in the cloud platform market, Microsoft decided to abandon this tactic "Do it yourself" and is inviting partners to play together. From now hosting providers will be able to offer white-labeled Windows Azure cloud platform. This tactic has been already successfully used by VMWare (vCloud) and OpenStack. And Microsoft, as you know, has a huge network of partners - service providers, hosting the Windows Server. Now they can offer customers Azure as well, or some Azure services based on Windows Server platform. Recall, Windows Azure is also sold in boxes to build private clouds for large corporations.

2012. Windows Azure provides Linux as a Service. Once Linux was the main threat to the bright future of Windows and now Microsoft provides Linux as a component of its cloud platform Windows Azure. And that's because the purely Microsoft-oriented cloud - was not very competitive in the fight against Amazon, RackSpace, VMWare, Oracle, Google and other providers. So, Windows Azure becomes not just PaaS, but also IaaS platform. Users can create Linux or Windows virtual servers and pay for them on per-hour basis, just like at Amazon Web Services. Available Linux distributives include Ubuntu, SUSE and CentOS. Perhaps Microsoft will soon also partner with Red Hat. But Linux as a Service - is not the only interesting update at Azure.

2012. OpenStack launches. CloudStack departs. Amazon adapts SAP. Azure rebrands. Here is the news digest from the leading cloud platforms. First of all, the open-source platform OpenStack (aka Linux for the clouds) which had been developed for two years by the alliance of IT giants (Rackspace, NASA, Citrix, Intel, AMD, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM ...) - finally comes to production. Since May 1, it was adapted by RackSpace for its service Rackspace Cloud Files and last week HP launched the public beta of its HP Cloud platform, based on OpenStack. However, a week before the launch the trouble (common for open-source projects) occurred with OpenStack. Citrix, which has been one of the first participants in OpenStack, suddenly decided to grant its own cloud platform - CloudStack - to Apache Software Foundation. Thus, CloudStack not flowed into OpenStack but became a rival project. Citrix explained this decision by the slow OpenStack development and unwillingness of other parties to integrate with Amazon Web Services APIs.

2012. So Amazon is #1. And who’s next in cloud computing?. GigaOm has published the list of top 7 cloud providers besides Amazon. Why besides Amazon? Because Amazon Web Services for now is far ahead of competitors. AWS is an absolute cloud market leader in all reports of all analytical firms. According to various estimates, AWS runs on 450,000 servers and generates about $1 billion in revenue per year. And who's next? Here are the top 7 the cloud providers by GigaOM: