Rackspace recently announced that it would offer Fanatical Support for AWS, as well as some ancillary services. This perhaps isn’t a huge surprise given that Rackspace is already offering Fanatical Support for Microsoft Azure.

According to Forbes, Fanatical Support for AWS is: “… a bold move that doubles down on Rackspace’s claims that their differentiation is managed services, not infrastructure. … These announcements show that Rackspace is betting on multiple horses to capture market share in the public cloud.” Forbes refers to these partnerships as “coopetion” as opposed to “competition.”

For organizations that want to move some workloads to Amazon’s cloud, contracting with Rackspace for managed services could be an attractive option-especially since Rackspace support could cost less than AWS Enterprise Support. This could also be good news for companies (and there are a lot of them) that have workloads on both AWS and Rackspace, if they want to consolidate support with one vendor.

But Fanatical Support for AWS could take some steam out of Rackspace’s efforts to compete in the proprietary public cloud marketplace with an open source OpenStack platform. Yes, Rackspace will still provide managed hosting, but for how much longer? Are they just setting themselves up to get acquired? More to the point: is this an issue for those considering Rackspace as a hosting provider? Should current Rackspace hosting customers start moving onto AWS or other public clouds?

I think the Rackspace cloud remains a good option for organizations that have a “legacy mindset” towards their virtual server infrastructure. Rackspace customers have typically come from dedicated server environments, and their cloud has always targeted that segment of the market. While they’ve made strides towards supporting more “ephemeral” type deployments along the lines of AWS, Rackspace remains more aligned with “persistent” approaches.

For example, Rackspace requires you to name each server instance (i.e., the primary identifier is not the instance ID). Likewise, when an instance gets taken down for routine maintenance there’s no way to tell Rackspace: “Hey, since this instance is going away we’re spinning up a new one, so we don’t need you to restart that old instance we just replaced.”

Either way, Rackspace is definitely shifting from being a hosting company that offers support to being a support company that offers hosting. Hopefully their hosting offerings will get better and better as they focus on them even more.

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