On 12th August 2014 Rackspace announced that it is offering some new features to its DevOps Automation Services, which includes Windows support and expanded environment stack support. With it the company launched a new advisory service to help development and operations (DevOps) teams with their transformation programmes.

The new service is available in the US and in the UK, and the firm says that they will offer its clients what it calls Fanatical Support – its managed operations service level support. The company says the aim of the new services is to help its “customers to design, manage and scale their cloud operations and to enable a continuous application delivery model” in what it considers to be a fast-growing and dynamic cloud era.

Joining the mainstream

Chris Jackson, the company’s Practice Area CTO for DevOps adds that is offers, “Managed cloud, which we launched back in July 2014 and which really helped Rackspace to take the DevOps offering into the mainstream, allowing us to stand side-by-side with more traditional support offerings.” He claims that the firm’s offering has somewhat matured around the context of environment stack services “alongside the application components such as New Relic Monitoring and LogStash log analytics. The Windows component extends its existing DevOps automation service.

Analyst firm Quocirca’s client service director, Clive Longbottom, comments that Rackspace has “by its very nature had to be a DevOps company itself [and so] it has taken its own approach and packaged it so that others can use it.” He believes that it’s a proven offering and that it does what is needed, but he expects the first iteration to continue to be still very technical as it is Chef-based, which in his view isn’t “the friendliest tool on the planet.”

Proven technology

So if this offering becomes popular Longbottom thinks that the front end will become more intuitive to pull everything together in order to make DevOps easier to operate. He says it differs from what other vendors on the market offer, because it is exactly what Rackspace itself does.

It hasn’t been initially “developed to meet a perceived commercial space in the market: Rackspace couldn’t find anything that did what it needed, so it came up with a means of doing DevOps itself, using open sources tools as much as possible”, he explains. In his opinion this approach should make the services offered by Rackspace both solid and flexible in the respect that it should be possible for the customer to make any necessary modifications to suit a particular purpose.

Infrastructure and code

Jackson believes that putting infrastructure into code helps DevOps to gain consistency across environments and across servers. To him it’s about “versioning and having a consistent understanding of how something is being set up because it’s difficult to manage a large number of servers consistently.”

So this offering should help its customers to know, for example, how many servers have the same configuration in the development and testing environment which might otherwise be impossible to realise. Jackson thinks this is vital because it’s common to see differing software versions and components between the different environments such as testing and production.

He therefore doesn’t believe that infrastructure and DevOps are being confused, and so Rackspace plans to continue “to integrate around our stack components.” Its vision is that customers will create the code and then Rackspace will do the rest, allowing customers to concentrate on coding and to deliver their services to their own customers. The offering has been under development for the last 9 months and some of its customers are already using it to reduce the complexity of DevOps.

By Graham Jarvis