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Cloud wars - how one user turned on Rackspace

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There's a ding-dong of a battle going on at the Hacker News part of YCombinator site following a blog by cloud analytics company's Mixpane's plans to move from Rackspace to Amazon.

It's rare for a decision by a small company to cause such consternation but perhaps it's an indication of how volatile things are in the "cloud" space (the inverted commas are Mixpanel)  right now. it was "unhappy with the Rackspace Cloud and love what we’re seeing at Amazon." The company gets a favourable deal thanks to being part of the YCombinator portfolio but that's not enough. "Even with all the lock in we have with Rackspace (we have 50+ boxes), it’s really not about the money but about the features and the product offering ... "

The company goes on to set out the advantages of Amazon. These range from disk resizing, to better scaling, better UI, better support and more consistent uptime - Rackspace has suffered several outages in the past 18 months. Two weeks ago, Amazon also announced free entry-level usage of its EC2 service

All well and good but the Mixpanel decision seems to have led to a flurry of support from other dissatisfied Rackspace customers. It reminds me of a messy divorce when suddenly long-forgotten or long-ignored grievances are suddenly brought up and thrown at the warring parties. There are people chucking mud at Rackspace: people chucking mud at Amazon; people chucking mud at both of them and people defending them too.

I don't exactly know why Mixpanel's blog post has attracted such interest but I can suggest a reason. Companies are still finding their way through the maze of hosted services and are still unsure about what they're finding.

We're still in uncharted waters in this to a certain extent and while I'm sure many companies have struggled with a variety of suppliers. I have little doubt that there will be an array of customers who have moved from Amazon to Rackspace but they don't happen to have blogged about in such a public way.

The world is changing ever faster: companies sign new contracts, drop suppliers every day but now we're seeing more of it in the public domain. It can only make for better industry, suppliers will see what's appreciated and what's not, will get a fair perspective on what works and what doesn't and what needs fixing. Companies have always lost customers: sometimes they know why, sometimes they think they know why but aren't sure and sometimes they haven't the foggiest. That's not the case any more: people can gain or lose business in a very public way.

That makes it strange that, although this was posted yesterday: no-one from Rackspace has responded on the Mixpanel blog, YCombinator or any of the official Rackspace blogs - nor would it an offer any comment when asked. In a world where an adverse comment about a company can go around the world two or three times within in a few hours, that doesn't sound like a good strategy to me.



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