Rackspace shows its metal

Written by Ian Murphy on 20 June 2014 in News
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Rackspace launches OnMetal cloud servers to reduce cloud complexity and help cloud apps scale

Rackspace OnMetal

As companies increase their use of cloud computing, many are looking to move away from the pure commodity model to a more controlled environment. This doesn't mean that they are sacrificing the flexibility of cloud or that they are looking to spend more, but instead, it is a reflection, for large and mid-sized customers, that cloud is now a first class platform for their computing needs.

To satisfy this demand, Rackspace has announced a new service called OnMetal. This is an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solution designed to make it easier for customers to take control of a physical server and use it to run their own cloud infrastructure. Unlike other bare-metal solutions on the market, Rackspace is claiming that they are delivering a fully API-driven approach to IaaS enabling customers to integrate cloud into their operational processes.

While some may see being tied to a piece of hardware a backward step in terms of cloud, there are offsetting benefits. Perhaps the most important of these is the increase in performance caused by no longer having noisy neighbours.

On a multi-tenanted server, VMs share resources and if one VM is a resource hogger, then it can affect all the other VMs on the same physical device. This leads to poor performance and is not always easy to track and solve. This means that cloud providers and IT departments are having problems meeting the ever tighter Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that business units and users are demanding.

“The rising complexity of the multi-tenant cloud affects applications in a variety of ways,” said Taylor Rhodes, president of Rackspace. “Virtualisation and sharing a physical machine are fantastic tools for specific workloads at certain scale; however, we’ve learned that the one-size-fits-all approach to multi-tenancy just doesn’t work once you become successful."

Rackspace OnMetal comes in three different configurations:

  1. Compute-optimised configuration - 20 threads and 32GB RAM; can be used to power large-scale web servers, application servers, queue processors and load balancers.
  2. Memory-optimised configuration - 24 threads and 512GB RAM; can be used to power caches, search indexes and in-memory analytics.
  3. I/O-optimised configuration - 40 threads, 128GB RAM, 3.2TB PCIe flash drive that can be used to power large NoSQL data stores, traditional SQL databases and OLTP applications.

To help customers get started, Rackspace is offering OnMetal customers access to specialists in their Fanatical Support® team. Their focus is to helping customers optimise their application architecture, assist with code debugging and monitor their infrastructure.

“What’s exciting about bare metal with an API is that you get all the benefits of cloud infrastructures, such as full automation and writing software to manage your servers, but without any of the compromises on performance or reliability,” said Alex Polvi, CEO of CoreOS

Initial deployment of OnMetal cloud servers will be in July in the Rackspace Northern Virginia data centre. None US customers will be able to use this to test and plan their own OnCloud deployments before the service is rolled out worldwide during 2015.

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