After cloud service outage, Rackspace plows ahead with new products

New backup products and hosted Microsoft SharePoint service on the way

Rackspace is trying to get back into customers’ good graces with a new set of cloud offerings, announced shortly after the company took a publicity hit with its third data center outage since June.

Rackspace’s latest power outage hit its Dallas-Fort Worth facility Nov. 3, with the company subsequently apologizing to customers and acknowledging it has work to do to ensure such a failure doesn’t happen again.

While Rackspace works on restoring its credibility with existing customers, the vendor is trying to lure additional users with three new products announced this week: Rackspace Cloud Drive, an online file storage application; Rackspace Server Backup, a cloud-based server backup application designed to protect file server data; and a hosted Microsoft SharePoint service.

“These new products help customers to spend less time maintaining basic IT systems, such as file servers and data backup software, and instead focus on their core competencies that drive revenue and add business value,” Rackspace says.

Rackspace says it already has 1.5 million e-mail subscribers, and said its moves into collaboration and backup apps “mark a critical step toward more aggressively competing in the software-as-a-service market, enabling customers to achieve a server-less IT environment.”

Rackspace’s competition in the cloud computing market will be fierce, including long-established players such as Salesforce and Amazon, and Microsoft which just announced that the long-awaited Windows Azure will be available Jan. 1.

Rackspace’s most pressing problem, however, may be ensuring that its Texas data center can handle the needs of customers without disruptive outages. After the most recent outage, Rackspace said it has “invested massively in the DFW facility to ensure it delivers at a level you expect,” and that “we feel very good about our plan and have high confidence in the DFW facility.”

Rackspace has a broad set of cloud offerings that offer virtual server and storage capacity, Web site hosting and software-as-a-service. The company should be well positioned in the emerging cloud market, as long as it convinces customers that its data centers can stay powered on 24 hours a day.

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.