Rackspace API gives developers greater access to cloud platform

Moving workloads from Amazon cloud to Rackspace will be possible

Rackspace Tuesday released an API allowing developers greater access to the company's cloud computing platform, and said that customers will be able to move workloads back and forth between the Amazon and Rackspace clouds.

A new iPhone application to be available within several weeks will also let customers manage their Rackspace cloud accounts from their iPhones, the company says.

The API itself was developed for Cloud Servers, which gives customers access to virtualized server instances, and closes a gap with Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud just as Rackspace is trying to repair its credibility in the wake of recent power failures.

The API lets customers create, configure and control virtual servers within the company's cloud computing platform. Rackspace says. For example, the API "enables elastic scenarios as users can write code that programmatically detects load and scales the number of server instances up and down."

A Rackspace partner called Cloudkick has developed an application that allows workloads to be moved back and forth between Amazon EC2 and Rackspace Cloud Servers, according to Emil Sayegh, Rackspace's cloud general manager. The ability to move workloads is a key goal for ensuring interoperability among cloud platforms.

"What the API allows you to do is open up the systems to each other," Sayegh says. "Cloudkick ... wrote an application that moves an EC2 instance to a Cloud Server [and vice versa]."

Sayegh says Rackspace plans to open source the API within weeks and that it was built with a REST-based format to ensure that it "conforms to industry standards." The API offers control panel and programmatic access to Cloud Servers, including access to server-specific metadata; ability to place files into server file systems; and creation of shared IP groups to enable high-availability configurations.

The ability to access Cloud Servers from an iPhone comes courtesy of an application developer named Michael Mayo, who participated in the API beta program. "Within days of him receiving the API in its beta form, he was able to develop ... an iPhone application to access Cloud Servers," Sayegh says.

The application titled Rackspace Cloud 1.0 for the iPhone has been submitted to Apple and should be available in the App Store within a few weeks, according to Rackspace.

Cloud Servers is one of a few Rackspace cloud services, along with a storage platform called Cloud Files and a Web site hosting platform called Cloud Sites.

When power outages affected Rackspace's data center on June 29 and July 7, some Cloud Sites customers suffered downtime, according to Sayegh. The Rackspace cloud is hosted in Dallas, St. Louis, Mo., and San Antonio, Texas, and customers in the latter two sites were not affected, he says.

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