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Rackspace Cloud Sites: Past, Present, Future!

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EDITOR’S NOTE JULY 20, 2012:

UPDATE: We have heard requests to extend the PHP 5.2 upgrade and are postponing this upgrade date for one month, moving from July 31 to August 31. PHP 5.2 was removed as a selectable technology option in June, and sites will be upgraded to PHP 5.3 beginning after August 31. Please ensure that your application or CMS solution is running the latest PHP 5.3 compatible version to avoid issues in this upgrade. We encourage users to validate that their sites are ready for PHP 5.3 prior to this upgrade in September. We will be contacting customers with test links to assist in this validation. Customers can manually upgrade sites to PHP 5.3 using the steps detailed in this article, but we encourage users to allow us to do the upgrade for you. Note that if you do the upgrade yourself, you will be unable to revert back to PHP 5.2.

First and foremost, thank you for being a Cloud Sites customer. Rackspace Cloud Sites celebrated its sixth birthday this past February. To honor the occasion, we’d like to take you on a journey through where Cloud Sites has been, where it is now and where it’s headed.

PAST

In six years, we have grown with our customers and learned a lot. Like any other new and innovative product in the market, Cloud Sites had its growth challenges. We want to thank all of our customers for not only sticking with us, but also for helping us evolve the product into what it is today. Currently more than 400,000 sites that handle more than 500 billion web requests per year reside on Cloud Sites. Altogether, this makes Cloud Sites one of the largest web properties in the world! Take a look at the numbers in the Cloud Sites infographic.

PRESENT

Even after six years we know there is so much more to achieve. We are laser-focused on customer feedback and very excited about the future of Cloud Sites. Here’s a recap of some of the things that we have done over the last few months:

  • We retired our first data center and migrated to a state-of-the-art facility with an improved infrastructure, resulting in better throughput, uptime and performance for customers’ websites. And we did this while continually delivering 99.9 percent uptime. This boost helps Cloud Sites customers, such as gdgt.com, when they expect a traffic onslaught.
  • PHP 5.3 was launched in early April and .NET 4.0 was made available through the control panel.
  • We improved DNS management in the control panel, including support for TXT, SRV and AAAA records.
  • MySQL administration tools were updated.
  • We made reliability improvements in the provisioning process
  • All newly provisioned MySQL databases in Cloud Sites are now MySQL 5.1. You can utilize the latest benefits and security updates.
  • MS SQL 2012 databases have also been released on Cloud Sites. Customers can enjoy the newest capabilities and benefits from MS SQL. Users can continue to deploy MS SQL 2008 until August 30th.

FUTURE

Cloud Sites has evolved over time, fueled by customer needs, technologies and market trends. And that evolution will continue.

You will see regular releases of features and updates that will add value to your hosting experience. We are excited to share some of the many upcoming features and changes that will be coming soon. Here’s a peek into things that you can expect in the near future:

  • Cloud Databases will be an optional feature that Cloud Sites customers who require a high-performance and more configurable database hosting technology can consume. This feature is expected to launch in Q3 2012 and will be handled on the Rackspace ServiceNet network.
  • MySQL 5.0 Migration – Customers can choose to self-migrate to 5.1 today. After August 31, users who have not migrated will be automatically migrated during a scheduled maintenance window. Reference the MySQL migration document for more information.
  • PHP 5.2 will be removed as a technology option in June, and all sites will be migrated to PHP 5.3 beginning on July 31.  Please ensure that your application or CMS solution is running the latest PHP 5.3 compatible version to avoid issues in this migration. Customers can seamlessly self-migrate to PHP 5.3 by selecting the PHP 5.3 technology option from the Features page of the control panel. We highly encourage users to do this before automated migrations begin in August.
  • PHP 5.4 is expected to be available in Q3.
  • .NET4.5 is expected to be available in Q4.
  • The Control Panel will continually be updated to make the site creation and management process more seamless.

We see an even brighter future for the Cloud Sites product. Thank you for your dedication to Cloud Sites and for all of your feedback. Please continue to let us know what more you would like to see in the product through our product feedback forum.

We are very excited for the future of Cloud Sites. Keep an eye out for even more changes to come!

Want to read more about Cloud Sites and how it came to be? Check out our Cloud Founders series, where we interview Rackspace cloud founders Jonathan Bryce and Todd Morey about Cloud Sites’ beginnings.

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About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Chris Spencer.

Chris Spencer is Sr. Product Manager for the Platform Product Line at Rackspace.


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18 Comments

I was wondering if you have any plans for upgrading MSSQL to MSSQL 2012. Thanks you are doing a Great job!

avatar Art on May 30, 2012 | Reply

Art, MS SQL 2012 is available in the Cloud Sites Control Panel now. Check out the latest Knowledge Center article on migrating from 2008 to 2012. http://www.rackspace.com/knowledge_center/content/migrating-microsoft-sql-server-2008-2012
Thanks

avatar Chris on May 30, 2012

OK Great. Glad to see improvements. WHat does this mean to me – i.e. with faster database options might WordPress load faster? Might we be able to see Magento stores run on CloudSites? :)

Developers using CloudSites arent always experts at servers- Would love to know what I can expect!!

matt – using opensource by the cart load.

avatar Matt Orley on May 30, 2012 | Reply

Matt, click on the links above for PHP5.3, .NET4, MySQL 5.1 to see the benefits. Basically, they include the latest technology, features and security enhancements. Overall, we strive to make your applications and sites run more reliably and faster. Unfortunately, Magento is quite resource intensive and is not recommended for Cloud Sites. Thanks

avatar Chris on May 31, 2012

Please add more space to MS Sql. 100 MB is too less for a database these days. To get 1GB of space, we need to shell $50 which is way expensive.

avatar User on May 30, 2012 | Reply

I am glad to hear that Rackspace will continue to support and enhance Cloud Sites. Updating PHP and MySQL versions will bring the service back on par with the competition. Cloud Databases will be a great addition to the more mission critical sites and I cannot wait to see that come to fruition.

But there are still a couple of crucial components that I hope will get some attention: a site and database backup service (every rinky-dink hosting company have this option in any control panel) and an email service that lets us (or our clients) pay for more storage.

avatar Gary W on May 30, 2012 | Reply

Another item that should be a must would be traffic statistics. Pulling the plug on this in September is a huge inconvenience.

avatar Tanner J on May 30, 2012 | Reply

How about an API so I can get a module made for Cloud Sites?

avatar Keith Schmader on May 30, 2012 | Reply

Would like to have API for controlling cloud sites like creating client, hosting, email account etc..

avatar Peter on May 30, 2012 | Reply

Please add Fantastico like WordPress installation or an API!

avatar Teddy Garcia on May 30, 2012 | Reply

Teddy, this effort is being scoped now

avatar Chris on May 31, 2012

Overall, I’m a very satisfied customer – you guys have been doing a great job!

One thing that’s been driving me nuts is the need for easy and quick folder compression and extraction. This needs to be at the top of the list. Or at the bare minimum the ability to click a button that says “run cron now” instead of having to check time, set 2 mins ahead…

Looking forward to what the future holds. Keep up the good work!

avatar Jeremy Latham on May 30, 2012 | Reply

“Run Cron Now” would be fantastic – as long as it didn’t mess up with automated recurring.

avatar Ricky Lee on July 11, 2012

“Would like to have API for controlling cloud sites like creating client, hosting, email account etc..”

Great idea.
Yes please. An API for creating cloud sites would save us heaps of time!

avatar Chris Beyer on May 30, 2012 | Reply

All the above is good – but if you look at customer feedback and forums the most requested feature is an integrated backup solution for Cloud Sites and this is still alarmingly missing from the future plans…..

avatar anon on May 31, 2012 | Reply

Thanks for all of the comments. As for the inquiries on an API, we are working on this, but it will take a considerable amount of time to fully implement. This will not be completed in the near term, but please note that we are working on it.

As for a zip or backup solution, we are recommending an interim solution that will allow customers to zip and backup each site independently. The backups are stored on Cloud Files. http://www.zipitbackup.com Please post your comments or experiences with zipit and other Cloud Sites features on the product feedback forum – http://feedback.rackspacecloud.com/forums/71021-product-feedback/category/6841-cloud-sites

Thanks for all of your feedback and for helping us improve Cloud Sites!

avatar Chris on May 31, 2012 | Reply

Just a +1 for the API, this would help us out tremendously in our projects and has, for long time, been the biggest thing we’ve been missing.

avatar Simon Kiedyk on June 3, 2012 | Reply

Would love an API as well, or something for us to bulk import sites.

I want to export from X (cPanel/other solutions) (files/mysql db/etc) and import into Rackspace Sites for my clients but I cannot do this automated, because of no existing API for cloud sites.

Cloud sites is fantastic otherwise.

avatar Josh on July 24, 2012 | Reply

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