Blake Yeager is the Product Manager for Rackspace Cloud Servers.
It’s been a few months since we announced the Beta release of our Cloud Servers for Windows offering and we’d like to provide you with an update on the progress we’ve made. With the feedback received from our customers using Cloud Servers for Windows Beta, we’ve been hard at work completing some of the most requested functionality that was not initially released with the Beta and have been carefully monitoring performance and stability.
We launched the Rescue Mode feature two weeks ago, which you may have noticed. Rescue Mode allows you to mount the drive from a Cloud Server that is not booting as a secondary drive on a new temporary Cloud Server. This provides the ability to repair the Cloud Server or copy any critical data off the drive.
This week we are launching two more features: On-Demand/Scheduled Images (aka Snapshots/Backups) and the ability to Resize Up your Cloud Server. With the On-Demand image feature you are able to make a copy of your entire Cloud Server instance (called an image). This image can then be used to create new Cloud Servers or it can be used to revert your Cloud Server back to the point in time when the On-Demand image was created. Scheduled Images allow you to specify a daily or weekly time window where the system will create an image of your Cloud Server instance.
The Resize Up feature allows customers to increase the size of an existing Cloud Server. If after creating a server and configuring your application you realize that you need more memory or disk, a simple click of a button will scale your server up to a larger size. Right now, you are unable to resize down but it’s a feature we are working on for the future. While we are continuing to look at options, we recommend that you start with the smallest size Cloud Server that can run your application and only resize up to a larger size when you are ready for the change to be permanent.
Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS)
Modern versions of Windows include VSS, a standardized mechanism for taking volume-based snapshots. To ensure consistent backups, VSS signals applications to flush data and pause while the snapshot is being taken. Our intention is to support VSS pass-through (a process by which Cloud Server backups/snapshots coordinate with the Windows guest VSS to ensure data is consistent), but at the present time, this is not functional. Since Microsoft does not support snapshots that have been created outside of VSS pass-through, they are unable to offer support for Cloud Server instances created from a snapshot, backup or any instance that has been resized up. Rackspace will attempt to support any Cloud Server created using these methods, however, until we get VSS pass-through working, we recommend that customers who require full Microsoft support use a built in backup tool such as NTBackup or Windows Server Backup to create and manage their backups. We will of course notify you once we have full VSS pass-through support.
In addition to these new features, we’re also making the following changes to the offering based on Microsoft’s recommended specifications and to ensure optimal performance:
It is important to note that the changes we are talking about will only apply to Cloud Servers for Windows. Sizes and vCPU allocations for our Linux Cloud Servers remain unchanged. As before, Windows Cloud Servers are still allowed to ‘burst’ and utilize any spare CPU cycles on the host. We will be rolling out the vCPU changes to existing Cloud Servers for Windows customers over the coming weeks.
We are very excited about these new features! We anticipate being able to remove the Beta label and offering a full SLA around Cloud Servers for Windows in the coming weeks. We can’t thank our customers enough for providing critical feedback needed to make Cloud Servers for Windows a success. As always we will continue to release new functionality and improved features we hope will help you be successful. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post here and I will get back to you.