We’ve been a Rackspace Cloud Sites (formerly Mosso) customer for about three years. In fact, I signed up as a beta tester when it was originally called “the system beats the machine.” I doubt many people that work at Rackspace even know that it once had that rather odd name. Honestly, it was very rocky at the beginning (even after it was officially out of beta) but today it’s a very solid platform. I’ve been a fan of Rackspace for years and would recommend them to anyone who needs dedicated and managed servers, virtual servers, storage delivery, our cloud hosting.
As much as I like Rackspace, the point of this blog post isn’t to praise them. They’ve been making a big marketing push on their cloud offerings lately but I get the impression that Cloud Sites (the service we use) is the, “oh, yeah, we offer that too” service. They seem to be unaware of the potential of one of their own service offerings and push people who need a “serious” solution to Cloud Servers. Cloud Sites is an excellent platform as a service for people running PHP or .NET web applications who have better things to do with their time than manage the hardware or software layers below their PHP or .NET applications. Sure, Cloud Servers takes away the hardware layer management but you still have to manage the software layer (operating system, PHP or .NET, MySQL, etc.) yourself and deploy individual virtual servers if you need more capacity.
Part of this impression comes from Rackspace’s recent marketing efforts around their cloud offerings. Some of it also comes from the technology behind Cloud Sites. For example, one of the big pain points (for me) with Cloud Sites is lack of support for features that would make application deployments easier. I understand why ssh isn’t supported since there is no single machine to remote into. They do support sshfs which is useful and solves part of that problem. However, support for public key authentication and symlinks (symlinks work but aren’t officially supported) would go a long way towards making application deployments less painful. It’s my impression that features like these aren’t included in Cloud Sites because Rackspace thinks that people who want them should use Cloud Servers instead. If that is what they think, then they’re missing the point of how dead simple and awesome an application platform Cloud Sites could be.