Rackspace Changes Cloud Billing Game

One bill for all cloud services -- across multiple third-party clouds? That's exactly where Rackspace is heading. A key example: The hosting company now offers Rackspace Private Cloud powered by Microsoft Cloud Platform -- a fancy way of saying Rackspace now offers IT support for Microsoft's Azure cloud.

In some ways, Rackspace is crying uncle. Instead of competing with third-party cloud giants (Microsoft Azure, Amazon AWS, IBM SoftLayer, etc.) at all costs, Rackspace is trying to offer its famed Fanatical Support to customers running on third-party clouds. 

Among the big twists: Rackspace can offer customers a single, integrated bill for the combined services (Rackspace consulting plus Azure computing), or customers can pay separately for the services.

Admittedly, this isn't revolutionary. SMB IT companies have spent the past few years seeking "single bill" solutions for cloud computing. Big names like Ingram Micro Cloud stepped forward with solutions a few years ago.

Different Year, New Milestone

But Rackspace's move is noteworthy because of the company's "tweener" size and previous strategies. The hosting and cloud provider generated $1.794 billion in revenues last year -- much larger than most cloud specialists, but too small to scale effectively vs. Microsoft, Amazon, Google, IBM and others.

It's a safe bet Rackspace will introduce similar consulting, support and integrated billing services for additional third-party public clouds. That's sort of ironic, since Rackspace's OpenStack effort tried (and failed) to create a surround-and-defeat industry against Amazon Web Services.

Put the irony aside and focus on the facts: Integrated cloud billing -- a single company offering multi-vendor cloud management -- has arrived.

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