Developing notes prior to a huddle with the Rackspace team and Rightscale tomorrow:
@krishnan has a detailed post out today outlining Rackspace’s roll-out of a new Rack API centric tools community. For me the killer quote out of the news came from Rightscale CEO, Michael Crandell
Rackspace’s commitment to helping drive success for their partners by leveraging their substantial customer base makes them a smart choice for cloud developers
As one of the largest hosting providers in the world Rackspace’s biggest appeal is an installed base of proven buyers. But new markets make for interesting transitions; their brand seems strongest with service quality centric customers–their primary business is in fully managed hosting where they are regarded as the elite brand. Countless times over the years I’ve corrected friends who mis-understood them as a PPP or bare-metal server player. They are the Zappos of managed hosting, perhaps more expensive, but focused on outstanding customer experience, reliability and an overall commitment to long term quality relationships. It is a winning strategy and they are hot stock to prove it.
This makes the choice not to follow the EC2/AWS API an interesting one. At first blush I’d imagine them doing a like-like on features and interfaces to Amazon and winning hearts and minds on enterprise quality service (Amazon has 0 brand there). This would allow them to instantaneously siphon off anyone built on top of the Amazon API with some minimal tweaks. I thought of their situation in terms of dominant design theory and one of my favorite technology strategy highlights:
(From James Utterback’s: Mastering the Dynamics of Innovation)
Over the next few posts I’ll be exploring the implications of dominant design theory on the cloud computing market…..the above quote is a tease, look for much more on this topic.
It was great to see so many partners line up only a month after the API launched to join Rack’s growing tools community. It speaks to the very real pent up demand in this young and growing market—but I also saw a few ISV’s wondering about compatibility.
@RFFlores At newScale we work with the Amazon EC2 API’s. If Rackspace supported those, they’d have my business. #cloudcomputing
@RFFlores @wattersjames It’d be a no brainer since the newScale service catalog tool is fully set up for EC2. Just point to a different URL, presto.
My Take: Its early enough to grow their own ecosystem, but it will require sincere focus and value-ad to justify the differentiation
Rackspace’s API is different for a reason. There are certain features (like static/unique IPs) they wanted to support that EC2 did not.
All the same that puts the onus on them to continue to create value ad differentiation for their cloud until there are numerous ISV’s building natively on the Rackcloud instead of porting over to it—that is until they have a unique market footprint, and their own cluster of long tail users who prefer their cloud for those architectural features. This is a partial departure from their service and quality branding—its compute quality and feature centric.
I hope to learn more from them soon—these are my warm up notes. Feedback and question ideas welcome.