Rackspace ‘Cloud Tools’ Portal, APIs Empower Adopters

To promote easy-to-build and easy-to-deploy cloud solutions, Rackspace Hosting this week launched Cloud Tools, a portal for sharing tools, apps and services.  The effort will be fueled in large part by Rackspace’s REST-based Cloud Server APIs, released this summer. IDN delves into the power of Cloud Tools and APIs with Emil Sayegh, General Manager of The Rackspace Cloud.

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To promote easy to build and deploy cloud solutions, Rackspace Hosting this week launched Cloud Tools, a portal for sharing tools, apps and services. 

Visitors to Cloud Tools (tools.rackspace.com) will find a wide array of information and demos on tools and applications developed on The Rackspace Cloud in four categories: Monitoring & Reporting, Dev Tools, System Management and Client Software.

The innovative portal for cloud tools and apps will be fueled in large part by Rackspace’s release of its REST-based Cloud Server APIs, execs said. 

Inside Rackspace’s Cloud Tools Portal
Rackspace’s Cloud Tools site offers the ability to:

  • Locate the latest cloud-optimizing tools, and see features, screenshots, demos, review ratings by other users, submit their mown ratings and post comments.  Tools are both free and available for a fee set by the developer.
  • Download information or actual tools from strategic partner’s website
  • Allow independent developers to submit their own tools for publication, based on the recently released Rackspace Cloud APIs.

 

"This tool-sharing service, along with our commitments to collaborate with the community to build an open cloud, lays the foundation for a large ecosystem,” said Jim Curry, Rackspace’s vice president of corporate development in a statement. “With the recent release of our APIs, we've seen an influx of interest in developing applications for our cloud computing offerings and we're pleased to announce that such applications can be featured in our new Cloud Tools site."

Rackspace’s Sayegh: Cloud APIs
Fuel Community, Control for Cloud

To understand the power of the Cloud Portal, it is useful to understand the brief history of cloud-driven thinking at Rackspace over the past few years.  It is a view driven to lower many barriers for both end users and developers by marrying a scalable and shareable infrastructure with easy to build/use cloud solutions running on top.

IDN delves into the power Cloud Tools and APIs with Emil Sayegh, General Manager of The Rackspace Cloud.

Rackspace engineers have been working to optimize cloud-type solutions, long before the phrase “cloud computing” became common place, Sayegh told IDN.

“About four years ago, we realized the world of dedicated infrastructure for each customer was going to be bypassed by a lot of users,” Sayegh told IDN.  “Technologies such as virtualization, provisioning and the ability to put multiple tenants on the same infrastructure were going to combine to offer customers some exciting low-cost solutions.” 

Looking back on those times, Sayegh said: “There were a lot of shared hosters in the market four years ago, but quality-of-service would be terrible because you could always be impacted by your [hosted] neighbor.  The opportunity was to offer a shared infrastructure that wouldn’t degrade.”

Having achieved a reliable multi-tenant cloud infrastructure, Rackspace’s release of its Cloud Server APIs was another key step earlier this summer.   The open, standards-based API aim to provide Rackspace customers easier ways manage their cloud infrastructure, obtain more control over cloud resources and especially to allow partners and end users to build their own programmatic solutions to cloud needs to cope with load and scales the number of server instances up and down.

The Cloud Servers API allows devs to access these four key features of the Rackspace infrastructure:

  • Server Metadata – Supply server-specific metadata when an instance is created that can be accessed via the API.
  • Server Data Injection – Specify files when instance is created that will be injected into the server file system before startup. This is useful for inserting SSH keys, setting configuration files, or storing data customers need to access from the Cloud Server.
  • Host Identification – A Rackspace Cloud Server provisioning algorithm has an anti-affinity property that attempts to spread out customer VMs across hosts. Host identification allows users to programmatically detect this condition and take appropriate action.
  • Shared IP Groups – The creation of Shared IP Groups and the ability to enable high availability configurations

 

“These APIs put customization is the hands of the customer,” Sayegh told IDN.  Rather than use manual dashboards, control panels and constantly monitor settings, Rackspace’s Cloud Server APIs will allow customers to make adjustments automatically and programmatically. “For example, with these APIs customers can set a program that says, ‘event time I add 1 to 100 servers, I need to spin up so many servers.  This automation puts the power of customization for the cloud into the hands of the customer.”

“To build the API, we had tons of feedback from about 300 partners and customers. One of the keys they told us was to base the work on REST, so we’ll stay light-weight, standard, and most importantly easy to use” he told IDN.  As an example of just how REST-based APIs can drive innovation for cloud services, xx shared the example of an iPhone-based app for monitoring cloud servers and files.  “With our Cloud APIs, one person was able to build that app in less than three days.” He said. 

Rackspace's Cloud Tools portal currently features tools from RightScale, Mixpanel, Cyberduck and 15 other partners and devs including Beanstalk, Cloud Mobile, Cloudkick, Django Cumulus, Elastic Rack, enStratus, jclouds, Jungle Disk, LibCloud, Olark Live Website Chat, rPath, SOASTA, Sonian, Vanilla, and Zeus. Other tools, applications and services are expected on an on-going basis, Rackspace officials said.




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