Rackspace Rack Review – December 2012

Happy holidays and welcome to Rack Review! This monthly digest features new product updates, combined with news and tips to help make your Rackspace® experience a rewarding one.
Cloud Networks Now Available
Cloud Networks is a powerful new addition to the open cloud that provides you with the ability to create isolated, layer 2 networks that look like traditional networks in both architecture and function – simplifying networking in the cloud. With the click of a button, you are now able to create software-defined networks allowing you to enhance the network security for your Cloud Servers™, creating sub-nets and controlling the traffic that flows between servers. Learn more.
The Architecture and Development Behind Cloud Block Storage
Last month we introduced one of our latest open cloud offerings, Cloud Block Storage, and this month we want to dive into the technical details behind it. Cloud Block Storage provides high performance and is ideal for applications that require large amounts of storage, scaling independently of your Cloud Server. There is a lot of history behind how this came about and how it can be leveraged. Come read about it on our DevOps blog.
Send and Receive Email in Your App for FREE
A few months ago, Rackspace acquired Mailgun, making it easy for you to send, receive and track emails through your websites and applications via the RESTful API or SMTP. Mailgun is the email automation engine trusted by over 10,000 developers who are sick of fighting with email servers. With sample code written in all of the most popular languages, like Ruby, PHP, Python, C# and Java, integration is easy. All Rackspace customers receive a $19/month credit for Mailgun services (use coupon code mg4rackspace). That’s enough to send up to 19,000 emails per month at no cost to you! Visit Mailgun to sign up.
Manage the Rackspace Open Cloud with the New Windows 8 App
We are offering you a new application that gives you the option to manage your Rackspace Cloud account directly from Microsoft’s newly-launched Windows 8 operating system. This free application can help you get even more out of your investment in the Rackspace Cloud by allowing you to manage your Cloud Servers directly from Windows 8. Learn more.
Help Protect Your VMware Virtual Machines with Replication
You need to have the ability to recover business-critical virtual machines (VMs) and restart the important apps in the event of a data center outage or unplanned downtime. Geographical redundancy is a key component to any sound disaster recovery (DR) strategy, and it’s a must-have for when disaster strikes. Read how VM Replication helps protect and recover Rackspace-hosted VMs by easily and affordably replicating VMs between our data centers.
Protect Servers Using Bastion Hosts and Isolated Cloud Networks
The public Internet can be a scary place for servers. Log files of servers attached to public addresses will show regular port scans and URL snooping. These log entries are the inescapable reminder that your hosts are always one misconfiguration away from disaster. We can help! We have created a guide that will teach you how to create a bastion host and an isolated cloud network so you can reduce the number of servers that have to encounter these threats. Learn more on our DevOps blog.
Giving Back to the Local Community
We held the largest Thanksgiving drive and distribution in San Antonio, Texas, – providing 1,000 families with turkeys and all the trimmings through our annual Turkey Drive, supported by the San Antonio Food Bank.
NoSQL Explained
For over thirty years, relational database technology has been the gold standard. Modern workloads and unprecedented data volumes, however, are driving businesses to look at alternatives to the traditional relational database. This “NoSQL movement” has given rise to a host of non-relational-database technologies, designed for large-capacity storage and scalability. We’ve taken some time to explain some of the popular options available for NoSQL.
Caching for the Holidays
Around the holidays, getting cash for a gift might make you think that the person didn’t put a lot of thought into your present. However, in the world of server configurations, giving cache to your customers is probably one of the best things you can do. Learn more about caching.
25 Most Influential Executives of 2012
Our own Lanham Napier, Rackspace CEO, was on the list of “The 25 Most Influential Executives of 2012.” See the full list here.
Tired of Email Management Hassles? Make the Move Now with Free Hosted Microsoft® Exchange Migrations
Tired of the headache of managing your own Exchange email server? Or worse, dealing with an unreliable or unresponsive provider? For a limited time, we are offering free email migrations (up to 250 Exchange mailboxes) when you sign up for a new Rackspace Hosted Exchange account. Our reliable, business-class Exchange hosting takes email off of your worry list, so you can stay focused on your business, while we manage your email. Learn more about our migration services. (Offer ends December 31, 2012)
Join Us in the Fight Against Patent Trolls
Fed up with patent trolls? So are we. Find out what we’re doing to help keep technologies out of the claws of patent trolls. And, better yet, join us in the fight. Find out more.
Start Using SharePoint® 2013 Today
We are glad to offer you two ways to get your own SharePoint 2013 site up and running today. The first option is the free trial, where you can get 45 days to explore and experience SharePoint 2012. Sign up for this limited time offer. The second option is to create your own Cloud Server with SharePoint 2013 and SQL Server 2012 images, ideal for project-based SharePoint deployments. To do this, simply go to the Cloud Control Panel and choose one of the available SharePoint images to get started right away.
Looking for extra help to reach your goals in the cloud? Visit the Rackspace Cloud Tools Marketplaceto find a catalogue of third-party-developed applications designed for the Rackspace open cloud. This month’s featured partners are:

SOASTA – Load and Performance Testing Solution
SOASTA CloudTestis an end-to-end integrated platform, available as a turnkey on-demand service for external, web-scale testing and as on-premise editions for use by testers behind the firewall. Cloud testing easily enables fast, low-cost testing at full web-scale, providing the confidence that the web or mobile application or site can withstand daily load in addition to the largest peaks and surges in traffic.Papertrail – Detect & Avoid Infrastructure Problems
Papertrail helps detect, resolve and avoid infrastructure problems using log messages. Aggregate and manage log messages from Cloud Servers, Managed Hosting, Hybrid Hosting, and other servers — both flat files and syslog. Setup takes a minute, then tail, search, react, analyze and archive.

 

Featured Rackspace Blog Postsfrom this past month:

  • Scale Storage Independently From Your Cloud Servers With Cloud Block Storage – Read
  • Mobile Sync for Rackspace Email, Take it Anywhere – Read
  • Cassandra By Example – Read
  • Out of time this holiday season? 5 Survival Tips to get ready for the rush – Read
  • Business Email Blunders: Could This Happen To You? – Read
  • Which CMS is right for you? – Read

Recent updates to Cloud Sites

I find it interesting that on April 5th RS announced a slurry of updates to Cloudsites and yet no one on these forums mentioned it.

The news seemed to have flew under the radar and made no headlines. In fact I didn’t even see the blog post until today after receiving a notice that one of the wishlist items were completed (no suitable nodes) http://feedback.rackspacecloud.com/forums/71021-product-feedback/suggestions/997177-eliminate-the-dreaded-no-suitable-nodes-error

First I’d like to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to RS for finally working on these items after so many years:

  • Improving no suitable nodes (I’m taking their word on this one)
  • Speeding up the Control Panel (definitely improved – it is bearable now but I still get a lot “Oops!” messages)
  • Adding DNS functionality. API is awesome, but not as useful to me. However, ability to add SRV/TXT records has been recently added to the CP (whoohoo!)
  • Added PHP 5.3 (FINALLY!)… and with that they updated PDFLIB and Imagemagick, ioncube, and more I think
  • I think they updated MySql versions too
  • Updated PhpMyAdmin (which I never use but many people do)I think we’ll all agree that these are long overdue. Some might argue that these updates are so overdue that this only brings RSC on par (if even that) with its competition. Perhaps no one made much hoopla because many of you left RS already?Whatever the case, I am still here and I am glad to see progress. I also am getting much better with the AWS console

    Gary

    PS I am still holding my breath for these:

  • Improve MySQL service so other malicious account holders don’t bring down the Mysql daemon and my site.
  • Option to PAY MONEY to backup Cloud Sites
  • Option to PAY MONEY to increase email storage

 

=========== Answer 1 ===========

I noticed the changes, but didn’t see anything announced either. They probably rolled it all in with their OpenStack stuff this past week.

While the changes are nice, the service is still lacking. I still get the feeling we’re lowest on the totem pole. We’re only still here because we have 300+ sites already setup and I don’t want to move them again. But there are times where I just wish they had an API for Cloudsites so I can have our guys code up a page for me to use to setup sites. It’s a pain having to manually click through everything when I have 8 sites to setup at once. Cloudservers and CloudFiles are more important revenue streams though. :/

=========== Answer 2 ===========

the dns updates especially are welcomed

=========== Answer 3 ===========

Good to see .Net 4

=========== Answer 4 ===========

Hi All,

Thanks for the positive words. There is a lot of positive work happening and we have a dedicated team on Cloud Sites thats really cranking.

I expect that we’re in a position now where we’re going to be able to release enhancements every month.

We have a broader communication we are working on right now that details some of the things we’re working on (including things like a better MySQL option for customers who need it).

-Josh

=========== Answer 5 ===========

I appreciate the upgardes and improvements but there are many things to improve yet.

Your billing system is lacking some controls. How it is possible that, by mistake, this month we have been charged for 2,452.2805 GB of Disk space overage when we have used 287GB. We have been using approximately 260Gb overage storage for months and from one month to another you charge my account for 2,452.2805 GB and your system did not fire any alert. How on earth we can upload 2.165GB in one month. It seems you are processing our resource usage manually and someone made a big mistake when sending data to billing department.

I have opened a ticket and support department confirmed there was an error and that the correct disk space overage is 287GB instead of 2,452.2805 GB.

Once this is confirmed i have talked to billing department and i was told they they are not allowed to refund my credit card. So they need to send the case to an account manager and now we have to wait 24 hs until account manager decide if our credit card can be refunded.

Unacceptable, this kind of things should be taken care immediately. I want my money back and i do not want to pay for months of services in advance.

Very upset.