Hosting giant Rackspace has launched two new managed cloud service offerings today, which it hopes will help capture businesses' increasing demand for public cloud services.

The two new service levels are managed infrastructure and managed operations.

The more basic level - managed infrastructure - will cost 0.35p for every gigabyte per hour and will include features such as 24/7 access to cloud engineers, architecture advice, launch assistance and security evaluation.

The next level up - managed operations - will cost customers 1.5p for every gigabyte per hour.

It includes all the services of managed infrastructure, plus "a full time named account manager, who will work on your application platform, install it, maintain it, upgrade it and help you configure it", according to Rackspace CTO John Engates. It also includes monitoring and response services.

Speaking to ComputerworldUK, Engates described it as "a higher, more comprehensive, more active service level, where we run things for customers and don't just wait for them to call us."

'DevOps automation is the future'

According to Engates, the managed operations level includes two methodologies: the traditional sysadmin approach, but also a 'DevOps' automation approach.

DevOps is an increasingly popular software development method that involves integrating developers and operations teams to improve collaboration and productivity. They are usually supported by automated infrastructure and, and application performance is continuously measured and fed back to the team so that apps can be developed faster.

Engates said: "We think DevOps automation is the future. We've been doing it for customers for over a year now and we're seeing significant take up with new companies, especially those building native cloud applications. But a lot of customers are not quite there yet."

Next wave of cloud adoption

Rackspace hopes that the new service levels will put it in good stead to capture future growth in the managed cloud sector, Engates explained.

He said: "This is a big deal for us. We're really excited about offering our products in a more transparent and clear way. We have believed for a long time that the market would be ready for managed cloud at some point, but it tended to be managed by those early adopter companies themselves at first.

"We firmly believe the next wave of cloud adoption will be by more pragmatic buyers, without the necessary resources or expertise there currently. This part of the market needs more help and guidance to go along with commodity resources. To address that market we're launching managed cloud."

Transparent pricing

Engates said that Rackspace has previously been penalised by its pricing models, which did not make it sufficiently clear that its offerings include support and extra services.

He told ComputerworldUK: "Something that hurt us in the market before was bundling some degree of support with every cloud customer. We have been criticised for being more expensive than Amazon or Google. We were, but for a reason, which is that we bundled in a degree of managed services, phone support and so on.

"We have now changed the way we bill for these services. Traditionally we bundled service and support into our offering. We were more expensive than competitors but that's because we included stuff they didn't like being able to call on the phone. You aren't able to do that with Amazon or Google unless buy a platinum support package.

"We have always picked up the phone for every customer no matter how big or small traditionally. But we were at a disadvantage from a price perspective as we didn't make that support clear to people."

Developer+

The company also launched 'developer+' today, a new programme for developers which allows them to try out Rackspace's cloud services for a year for free while they work on building applications.

Engates said: "The 'developer+' programme was developed by our developer relations team here. It recognises an interesting fact, which is that if you launch managed services on cloud, developers will say 'I'm just trying it out, I don't want to pay for it until I need it'.

"So we've made the programme no charge for 12 months, so developers, be they individuals, within start-ups in bigger companies, can get free space on our platform for 12 months. Then they should be ready to come into one of our service levels."