Rackspace is moving up the cloud stack by acquiring Cloudkick, a startup that provides server management and monitoring as a service. Rackspace already has a partnership with CA-owned Nimsoft, so I suspect the purchase was spurred by a desire to compete with Amazon Web Services.


Updated: Rackspace is moving up the cloud stack by acquiring Cloudkick, a San Francisco-based startup that provides server management and monitoring as a service. The acquisition represents a quick exit for Cloudkick, which just exited beta in January and only incorporated on-premise server management in March. The need for Rackspace to offer monitoring and management tools is clear, but Rackspace already has a partnership with CA-owned Nimsoft. I suspect the purchase was spurred by a desire to compete more closely with Amazon Web Services.

What’s curious is that Rackspace and Nimsoft only announced their relationship in April, and collaborated on new Nimsoft features just this month. Although both Nimsoft and Cloudkick can monitor cloud, managed and on-premise servers, Nimsoft appears to provide management capabilities beyond what Cloudkick provides, especially as it relates to managing physical servers. I’m awaiting word on how the Cloudkick acquisition affects the Nimsoft relationship, but it might not affect it at all. Part of Rackspace’s business as an MSP is to provide support atop a variety of third-party services, so it might give customers the choice of using either service.

Update: Lew Moorman, president of Rackspace Cloud and chief strategy officer of Rackspace, responded via email,“We have a solid relationship with Nimsoft (and CA) and they will continue to be at the center of our Enterprise offering for in-depth application and infrastructure monitoring. The [Cloudkick] toolset will be used more broadly for general SysAdmin level monitoring and reporting.”

What is clear, though, is that AWS just announced a slew of new features for its CloudWatch monitoring service, and Rackspace might not want to have to rely on third parties for monitoring its services. Cloudkick also gives Rackspace users the ability to monitor services outside of Rackspace’s, including AWS, GoGrid, SoftLayer and Linode. Users won’t get that with Amazon’s CloudWatch. Rackspace might not be within spitting distance of AWS in terms of cloud market share, but it is, by all accounts,  a solid No. 2 and certainly doesn’t want to lose that position by sitting idle.

Also, integration into OpenStack — the Rackspace-led open source IaaS platform — might have something to do with this acquisition. Cloudkick was already contributing to the project, although not by offering its code. Rackspace denies any plans to incorporate Cloudkick code into OpenStack in the future, but we can’t ignore the possibility of that happening. Rackspace need not give away the entirety of  the Cloudkick product via OpenStack, but some basic monitoring capabilities would make for a more-complete offering.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

  1. [...] we’ve seen AWS seriously upgrade its CloudWatch service in the past few months, and why Rackspace bought Cloudkick last month. Customers want to know what’s going on with their cloud servers so they can take [...]

  2. [...] Rackspace’s dedicated hosting and cloud computing businesses. Coming just a month after Rackspace bought cloud monitoring startup Cloudkick, the Akamai partnership appears to be another indicator that Rackspace is doing everything it can [...]

  3. [...] November. Bryce added that OpenStack is evaluating how to integrate the Cloudkick technology that Rackspace acquired last month — a difficult proposition because much of Cloudkick’s value comes from being a hosted [...]

  4. [...] Perhaps everyone just sees the writing on the wall. At the current pace, it will take almost 10 years for cloud revenue to eclipse hosting revenue for Rackspace, but I don’t think it will take that long. For one, total net revenue increased only 7.5 percent quarter over quarter compared with 17.1 percent for cloud revenue. And then there’s OpenStack. Its open source foundation aside, the project presents a prime opportunity to offer services and premium versions of the software that could end up making Rackspace a lot of money — and that’s on top of the increased sales that undoubtedly will come when Rackspace replaces its current cloud platform with the supposedly superior OpenStack software. We also don’t know exactly how Rackspace will monetize the Cloudkick management and monitoring technology it acquired in December. [...]

  5. [...] trademarked “Fanatical Support.” Another option he suggested might be selling Cloudkick’s monitoring and management software to OpenStack users. Rackspace will be “much more explicit” about its OpenStack support [...]


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