Rackspace Cloud & FreeBSD

UPDATE: In July 2012, Rackspace Cloud launched support for the FreeBSD 9.0 operating system.

Over the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Rackspace Cloud on multiple levels and from multiple directions.  I’ve been quite impressed with the technology, the team’s knowledge and willingness to help customers, the advancement of features, and the growing community.

To be frank, some awesome things to mention about Rackspace Cloud:

  • Your CPU and I/O usage is burst-able no matter what instance you have, and under the hood of every instance is RAID 10 disk.  With the cheapest instance at less than 2 cents/hour, you can launch a small or horizontally scaled application with a very small budget while still taking advantage of excellent CPU and I/O performance.  Oh, and yes, you can get started for 1.5 cents/hour.
  • The instances are persistent, so you can choose to use them however you’d like: very good for traditional folks used to traditional hosting, who want to name servers, use static public and private IP addressing, update reverse DNS, etc., while also good for those folks looking to spin up and tear down instances dynamically and often.
  • Free DNS hosting, an excellent DNS api, and the ability to set reverse DNS.
  • Dynamic resizing of instances on the fly (with API support for this and many other operations).
  • Console access and system recovery using their simple and steadily advancing control panel.
  • Great image snapshot capabilities and automated backups (though still slightly limited in the current implementation).
  • Excellent (Fanatical, actually!) support.

Every implementation has its downfalls.  Rackspace Cloud has no EBS solution, so disk space is limited to the amount included with your instance (though it is persistent).  The API is growing, so for now, there are still a few bugs and features missing. They have multiple data centers, but you need two separate accounts to use them.

I could keep going on both positives and negatives.

However, my largest disappointment with Rackspace Cloud is the lack of FreeBSD support.  As an avid FreeBSD user, I look forward to the day when Rackspace Cloud supports this fantastic Operating System.  My assumption is that the version of Xen Rackspace Cloud is using still does not support FreeBSD, as mentioned in the comments of Why the Rackspace Cloud Control Panel is the Best.  One could also argue that FreeBSD does not support the older versions of Xen.  Either way, it’ll be great to see this released later this year if that’s true.

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3 Responses to “Rackspace Cloud & FreeBSD”

  1. Geert Mac September 1, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    We are using Rackspace for more than 10 years, dedicated server running FreeBSD. They do not support the OS, but we agreed form the beginning, that the OS is our problem.

    Not running FreeBSD on the cloud has been one of our disappointments, too.

    On another hand the Fanatic Support and the constant uptime and quality of everything made us stay there on dedicated server, and yes, hope FreeBSD will come in a cloud mode in one way or another.

  2. Geert Mac September 1, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    PS The dynamic resizing on the fly is, however, not the truly correct. If the server has data, it can take hours to move the data (and why would you resize if you do not have data on the server?). I had quite a bitter argument with them on that and they recognized it.

    • Matt Juszczak
      Matt Juszczak September 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm #

      It is true that the server resize takes some time. From our experience, a total resize can take an hour, but the outage itself is only about 2-5 minutes, depending on the size of the server and the amount of data that needs to be copied. However, if the application is implemented correctly, a small server/instance outage shouldn’t be too big of a problem. While we still usually recommend treating cloud instances as ephemeral (even when on a non-ephemeral provider like Rackspace Cloud), the resize feature can save a lot of time as you scale. And for those who haven’t setup cloud automation, or are treating the instances persistently/traditionally, the resize feature is a great alternative to launching a new instance. Thanks for the comments.

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