Amazon Cloud Hosting vs Rackspace Cloud Hosting


Posted on 5th November 2010 by cloudhostingguy in Cloud Hosting

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Cloud hosting has become a powerful and affordable option for those who need access to server resources on a dynamic basis. While relatively new, the technology itself is proven and already there are many well-established companies moving into the Cloud hosting space.

Two of the biggest names are Amazon and Rackspace, and the Amazon Cloud and Rackspace Cloud offerings both take the lead in this growing market. Both offerings tout the ability to create new server instances within minutes, to scale up and down almost immediately as your requirements change, and the advantage of paying only for capacity used. And true enough, both companies do exceptionally well in that regard. Users of either offering have consistently gained advantage, and both are highly acclaimed.

The Rackspace Cloud does offer an edge in a few areas though, especially in persistence of the virtual server. Because the Rackspace offering is tied to RAID10 disk storage, you do have additional protection against a drive failure in case of a failed host. In other words, if an unlikely server failure does occur in the Rackspace facility, your own Cloud Server will still exist. Depending on your particular data center needs, you may wish to embark on a hybrid strategy of Cloud and dedicated servers. Not everybody needs such a strategy, but it may be necessary for example in the case of a company with both a highly secure private, as well as public intranet. In such a case, Rackspace again does give you the option of dedicated servers as well. While Cloud hosting, and Cloud computing in general, is typically very easy to implement and to operate on a day-to-day basis, support remains an important consideration, especially since the physical server is removed from your own premises. You rely on your provider to provide ongoing support. Amazon does offer a paid premium support package in addition to its basic tech support service, which gives you fast support.

Rackspace takes a different approach with its “Fanatical Support” offering, which comes free with every Cloud hosting account. Without the added layer of paid support, even with everything else being equal Rackspace would come in at a lower price point. Finally, those who want to start small may also want to give Rackspace a top space on your short list, with Cloud Servers starting at just 256MB and going up to 16GB.

pros/cons of Amazon vs. Rackspace Cloud.

Rackspace Cloud:-

  • Speed & usability of the web interface:, It would be nice to have a few more features in the web interface, such as the ability to launch multiple servers at once
  • Multiple data center support: the ability to choose a specific data center for each instance that is provisioned.
  • A directly attached storage solution: although the disk space allotted to each instance is reasonable, non-volatile, and fast, there’s no ability to expand for increased storage or setup logical RAID volumes for increased throughput.
  • Custom image support: it would be nice to run FreeBSD (version 8.x has good support for the Xen hypervisor).

Amazon Cloud:-

It is the most well-known provider, and for good reason.  They have a strong API, flexible implementation options, “external” storage, and a slew of other features.  Here are some things to be improved:

  • Static internal IP addressing: unlike Rackspace Cloud, EC2 doesn’t guarantee that your internal IP address and/or DNS entry won’t change.  This can be a hurdle for those that want to implement internal DNS.  However, EC2 is smart enough to re-route traffic to other EC2 instances locally at all times, even if the public IP address is used.
  • Security groups can’t change: once an instance is launched, you can not change its security group configuration.  This hinders flexibility.
  • Buggy Amazon Cloud console: the console that is provided by Amazon is buggy.  One example: sometimes security group rules will disappear if you attempt to access a security group you’ve modified during the same session.
  • Lack of clarity on data center/zone locations: this can hurt standard naming conventions (such as after airport codes) when you don’t know exactly where your instances are located.

Let’s take a look at the various areas that a consumer should care about, starting with one of the more important areas:


Pricing is important.  You’re talking about pay-on-demand server resources, so you want them to be economical.  You also want the long-term pricing model to be competitive to dedicated servers, so you don’t have to spread things between providers.  All prices are for basic Linux (Ubuntu 10.04), both services also offer Windows servers (at a higher price) and other Database options.

Amazon EC2

Amazon provides multiple Instance options, depending on what you need:

  • Small Instance (the default):  1.7GB of RAM, 1 CPU Core, 160GB of Storage, 32-bit platforms only
  • Large Instance:  7.5GB of RAM, 2 virtual cores, 850GB of Storage, 64-bit platforms (and 32-bit if you wish)
  • Extra Large Instance:  15GB of RAM, 4 virtual cores, 1.7TB of Storage, 64-bit platforms (and 32-bit if you wish)

Note:  Amazon EC2 also can provide High-Memory, High-CPU, and Cluster capable Instances (not covered here). These various options come in 3 different Pricing Options:

  • On Demand – Pay by the hour that the Instance is running ($0.085/hour for Small, $0.34/hour for Large, $0.68/hour for Extra Large)
  • Reserved – Pay by the year ($227.50/year for Small, $910/year for Large, $1820/year for Extra Large), additional discounts for additional years
  • Spot – These are different, you specify a maximum you’re willing to pay/hour and as long as the price is below that, you get it.  If the price increases (because demand for these types of Instances is growing) above your maximum, the Instance is terminated.  Since the prices fluctuate, $0.031/hour for Small, $0.14/hour for Large, $0.233/hour for Extra Large (about 1/3 of an On Demand at the moment)

Rackspace Cloud

Rackspace Cloud doesn’t have nearly the complexity in picking an Instance, but they do give you more granularities in the configuration (and price):

  • 256MB RAM, 10 GB Disk:  $0.015/hour
  • 512MB RAM, 20 GB Disk:  $0.03/hour
  • 1024MB RAM, 40GB Disk:  $0.06/hour
  • 2048MB RAM, 80GB Disk:  $0.12/hour
  • 4096MB RAM, 160GB Disk:  $0.24/hour
  • 8192MB RAM, 320GB Disk:  $0.48/hour
  • 15872MB RAM, 620GB Disk:  $0.96/hour

A Quantitative Comparison of Rackspace and Amazon Cloud Space

1) RSC’s storage is directly attached and persistent. This means fast I/O, and that you don’t (necessarily) lose your data in the event of a crash or reboot. To get persistence with EC2 you have to pay for one or more EBS volumes, and they’re still not directly attached.

2) Where Amazon gives you ceilings, RSC gives you floors. EC2 says “This is how much CPU you get,” while RSC says “You’ll get at least this much CPU, and you can burst if there’s more available.”

3) A much better scaling model. If you need to scale on EC2, you have to launch additional instances (which you can do with stored AMI’s). At RSC, you can point to a running instance and click a button to say “Make this server bigger” (or smaller if you need to scale down). A few minutes later, it’s all done.

4) Support! Amazon has pay-per-incident support. If you’re using Cloud Sites, Rackspace sysadmins manage your instance(s) for you. If you’re using Cloud Servers, you manage your own instance(s) but still get their support* which really is as good as they say it is.

5) Hybrid deployments. For larger deployments you can mix-and-match VPS instances and dedicated hardware, and they’ll work pretty seamlessly together. Amazon doesn’t offer this at all.

6) DNS and reverse DNS. DNS services are common (though EC2 doesn’t offer them), but reverse DNS is unheard of. If you look up my host’s IP you get back my hostname instead of some convoluted hostname set by my hosting provider.

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  1. Amazon Cloud Hosting vs Rackspace Cloud Hosting | says:

    […] Here is the original post: Amazon Cloud Hosting vs Rackspace Cloud Hosting […]

    6th November 2010 at 12:02 am

  2. Terry Lawton says:

    Great post. Here’s an article which compares the popular cloud database services – Caspio, Amazon,, and Microsoft SQL

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    22nd December 2011 at 10:34 am

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