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Rackspace cloud storage features open source software, simple pricing

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One of the distinctive features of Rackspace Hosting Inc.'s Cloud Files storage service is the open source OpenStack Object Storage software that sits at the back end. Rackspace and NASA co-founded the OpenStack community that develops the object-based storage software, known as Swift, to which customers can contribute and influence.

Cloud Files launched in 2008 as the Rackspace cloud storage offering. For hardware media, the service uses SATA hard disk drives. To accelerate distribution of files and media such as video, audio and photographs, Cloud Files integrates with Akamai Technologies Inc.'s Content Delivery Network (CDN), using more than 200 of its edge locations.

Getting started/connected

Cloud Files uses the HTTP protocol and is accessible via a REST API, five language bindings, a Web-based control panel and various third-party tools that provide integration with the Cloud Files API, such as products from StorSimple (which was acquired by Microsoft) and TwinStrata.

Rackspace's cloud storage offers the option of Bulk Import to Cloud Files, whereby customers send physical media to the company for direct upload at its data centers. Rackspace charges $90 per drive, plus a $15 fee per drive if the customer wants it destroyed rather than shipped back.

Data center locations

Chicago, Dallas and London

Pricing

Rackspace has a straightforward pricing scheme for Cloud Files. Customers pay only for the storage and outgoing bandwidth they use. The company bills customers at month's end for their prior month's data. The monthly fee for storage use starts at 10 cents per gigabyte (GB) and decreases on a graduated basis as the volume increases; outbound and/or CDN bandwidth use is 12 cents per GB. Support is included. Cloud Files has no fee for incoming bandwidth and no fee for requests of any type (such as PUT, POST and LIST, HEAD, GET and DELETE requests of Cloud Files objects).

(Note: All pricing information is valid as of April 1, 2013)

Service-level agreement

Rackspace guarantees its Cloud Files service will be available 99.9% of the time in a given billing cycle. The company defines unavailability as the Rackspace Cloud network being down, the Cloud Files service returning a server error response to a valid user request during two or more consecutive 90-second intervals, or the CDN failing to deliver an average download time for a 1-byte reference document of 0.3 seconds or less as measured by Rackspace's third-party measuring service. Scheduled maintenance does not constitute lack of availability.

A customer is eligible for credit calculated as a percentage of the last billed fee for the service, or at its option, the Cloud Files fee for the current billing cycle. Click here for the credit schedule.

Rackspace does not offer a custom service-level agreement for Cloud Files.

Management

Customers can manage their data directly from the Cloud Files API or via the Rackspace cloud control panel. They have the ability to control decisions such as an object's geographic location, retention period, metadata, headers and versions. Rackspace manages the actual storage infrastructure, including object replication, uptime and patching.

Security

By default, communication from the customer to the storage system happens over HTTPS. Customers must authenticate against the Rackspace authentication system using a username or API key. Their access is cached only for 24 hours, at which point they must re-authenticate. Cloud Files implements software-based firewalls, and all systems administrators must use Secure Shell to make changes.

Additional notes

Cloud Files integrates with additional Rackspace storage and compute offerings, including RackConnect hybrid hosting, Rackspace Private Cloud software (based on OpenStack), file-level Cloud Backup (featuring block-level compression and deduplication) and block-based Cloud Block Storage for I/O-intensive workloads such as databases that make use of Rackspace's Cloud Servers. Cloud Block Storage customers can choose solid-state drives or standard volumes.


This was first published in April 2013

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