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Cloud Files Emerges!

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Yesterday Cloud Files exited our public Beta period and entered General Availability.

We launched Cloud Files in private Beta almost a year ago, and it’s been in public Beta since last October. Since then, we’ve been solidifying the infrastructure and making sure we’re wired up with Limelight Networks to power our low-latency, globally-available content delivery network. We’ve also been working on another round of features that we know customers will be excited about – all of which I’ll cover in more detail below.

But for those of you who are not already familiar with Cloud Files, the two most popular use-cases are:

Content Hosting and Delivery:

Cloud Files is the first and only cloud service that leverages a tier one “content delivery network (CDN)” provider to create a complete, pain-free, hosting solution for storing and delivering media content.

· Serve media to your users around the globe – fast!

· Utilize CDN bandwidth starting at 22 cents a GB

· Sign-up with no minimum commitments or contracts.

· Easy online and programmatic interfaces for publishing to the CDN.

Storage and Backup:

Cloud Files is a reliable, scalable, and affordable web-based storage for backing up and archiving.

· High performance, redundant storage, starting at 15 cents a GB.

· All data is replicated across three separate locations.

· Use as much or little as you want and pay only for what you use.

· Store individual files as large as 5GB.

· Manage your files programmatically or through our online interface.

Pricing

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* When you access Cloud Files using the Mosso | The Rackspace Cloud online control panel, the bandwidth you use (both incoming and outgoing) and the requests you generate are free of charge.

Other CDN costs:

No request/operation charges

No bandwidth charge from Cloud Files to CDN

How do we compare to the competition?

· Pricing: for many use-cases, Cloud Files is cheaper than other cloud storage offerings on the market today. For a detailed breakdown, you can review one of our previous posts on http://www.rackspacecloud.com/blog that also includes an Excel spreadsheet to run your own what-if scenarios.

· Support: We’re Rackspace. If you know us, you know what that means – we’ll do everything we can to make sure you get answers to your questions to help get you up and running. The Rackspace Cloud is powered by humans that are there for you 24x7x365 at no additional cost.

What’s new?

We have a long list of new features; too many, in fact, to cover in any great technical detail in this blog post. If you’re interested in more detail about these features, you should review our documentation and “coming soon” wiki site.

· Increased name limits: Container names can now be 256 bytes long and Object names can be up to 1024 bytes long.

· JSON or XML list results: When listing Containers or Objects, users can request that the output be formatted in JSON or XML. This format also provides additional detail about the items such as total bytes stored in a Container, the Object’s content-type, and size to name a few. This is a great way to quickly grab detailed information about your data without having to iterate over each item and issue a separate request for this detail.

· Pseudo Folder/Directory Nesting: In response to numerous requests to provide a means to create a nested-folder/directory structure, we have a technique that users can utilize to mimic this behavior. Users can create Object names with the ‘/’ path separator and “directory marker” Objects to seed their storage account for this support. To traverse these pseudo folders/directories, users can specify a “path” query parameter to only retrieve the Objects that appear to reside under that path.

· Chunked PUT Requests: Users also frequently request the ability to stream data into Cloud Files without having to buffer it to a disk to calculate the file’s size for the Content-Length header. Now users can use the Transfer-Encoding: chunked header on PUT requests. Users will need to remember that our upper limit is 5GB and anything larger than that will cause the server to disconnect the client.

· Replacing “offset” with “marker”: Listing Containers or Objects used to support limit/offset integer parameters to “page” through their items. We’ve replaced the offset parameter with a new string parameter called “marker.” It works functionally the same way but will return item names “greater than” the marker value. Generally, the name of the last item in the current result set would be used as the next marker value to continue iterating through the full set of items.

· A Ruby API: We’re continuing to add new language API’s to make it easier for developers to integrate Cloud Files into their applications. In addition to PHP, Python, Java, and C#/.NET, we are adding Ruby to the list. All of our language API’s support the full feature list of Cloud Files. When we say we “support” an API we mean that we keep it in lock-step with our features so that you’re not dependent on an external community to adapt to upstream vendor changes.

· Jungle Disk on Cloud Files: Our sister company, Jungle Disk, providing online backup software, now offers the option to store data on Cloud Files paving the way for a unified buying experience and new simple pricing.

What’s next?

Are there other things you want? Yes, of course there are! Here is a sneak peek of a few of the things you can expect to see this year, so be sure to keep a look-out!

· CNAME Support for CDN

· Restrictions on CDN content access

· Access to CDN web logs

· Build-outs of Cloud Files in other regions

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Eric Johnson.


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