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Rackspace's Red Label Blows Away Linux Support Myth
From Google to Ironman
July 18, 2005
One infamous line of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt regarding Linux is this:
"If you use Linux, you will have no support."
This accusation is still smouldering, despite the presence of top-line support programs from Red Hat, Novell, and Mandriva, among others. Today, a third-party vendor is throwing more water on this particular bit of FUD with the announcement of a new managed host offering.
Rackspace Managed Hosting is now offering Red Label, an enterprise- and SMB-level support package that offers management, monitoring, and security services needed to ideally ensure 100 percent uptime of mission-critical business apps.
Rackspace is no stranger to Linux, having cut its teeth on Linux servers since the company's birth in 1998. In fact, Linux was the only platform the company offered initially--Rackspace would only move to Windows server hosting laster.
Today's announcement marks the first time a hosting vendor has leveled this much Linux support for its customers, and belies the notion that Linux support has to be a multi-source process, according to Paul Froutan, vice president, product engineering.
"Rackspace is now a one-stop support shop for Linux," Froutan said in an interview with LinuxPlanet.
According to Froutan, Rackspace, which hosts more than 4,500 Linux configurations, was seeing more and more demand for higher-level support services from its enterprise-level customers, such as Google, Atari, Oakley, Siemens, and Ironmanlive. These customers wanted more support as time went on, and Rackspace soon saw a need to formalize this support under the Red Label name.
Froutan explained the four levels of service Red Label customers will recieve.
The first aspect is a proactive patching program. Rackspace will work with the customer and determine what applications and services they are running and determine how and when to patch customer systems. Once a patch is released, Rackspace will use the Red Carpet package managment tool to transparently repair the system.
Red Label customers will also receive extensive monitoring services, down to the application level. These will key on network external business availability, application and database performance, and overall system performance and utilization.
All Red Label customers will receive their own dedicate Rackspace representative, someone who will know exactly what the customer is running, Froutan expalined. Besides being a single point of contact, this rep will work with the customer to review their technology on a monthly basis and make sure their current needs are being met.
Finally, Red Label customers will receive support for more enterprise apps on Linux, including Oracle (RAC and Cluster), JBoss, and MySQL (including MySQL Cluster).
Under the program, Rackspace is officially supporting Red Hat and SUSE Linux, as well as standardized Dell hardware platform.
While much of the literature about Red Label emphasizes the enterprise capability of the program, Froutan emphasized that it is not about size so much as how much support the customer needs. "Some of our customers only have three to four servers," he said.
While comprehensive, the level of support offered by Rackspace seems so straightforward, one wonders why no company has ever tried it before. Froutan cited technological obstacles that made comphensive Linux support not very commericially viable. As time went on, more and more pieces of the support puzzle came into being, and eventually Rackspace was able to put them together in one package.
It didn't hurt, Froutan said, that the company has had long experience with Linux, both with the community and commercially, and has a pretty good range of talent in-house.
While currently Rackspace's program does not officially extend to other Linux distros, Froutan seemed interested in the recent rise of Debian as a commercial product when asked. Extension of Red Label support to Debian, he added, would depend on customer demand.