Cloud computing is elastic, but people are not – can Rackspace help?


We all know that cloud computing is elastic. If you need more resources, it’s easy to add capacity. It’s not infinite capacity, but it is easy to add capacity on demand compared to the traditional way of procuring, racking, and stacking servers, storage, and networking equipment.

However, computer hardware alone does not a solution make. There is a need for operating system software, application software, and most importantly, some people who get actually do the hard work to make this work.  

Some parts may be automated, such as operating system installation and provisioning software, but there are tasks that simply cannot be automated. This actually puts one in a quandary – if you need to scale capacity elastically during times of heavy demand, how do you scale the people? It’s not like surge pricing in Uber where people will magically come out of the woodwork due to increased demand. Even if there are extra staff available in the IT department, they may not have relevant skills or certifications.

Rackspace seeks to solve this problem by offering managed cloud services. Rackspace has been most famous for dedicated hosting, quality support services, and also for being a co-founder of OpenStack, an open source cloud orchestration platform.

Rackspace is working to shake this prior reputation that they built so well. However, it’s increasingly obvious that the top cloud service providers are getting a significant share of the users' mindshare, so Rackspace has now added support services for Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, which is a way to meet their customers where they are. They now have over 400 professionals certified for AWS, and also offer staff providing support for Microsoft Azure public cloud, private cloud, and Office 365.

This is a trend that other firms are examining. The VMware Cloud on AWS solution has VMware managing and operating the infrastructure of VMware Cloud on AWS. I’ll write separately with my thoughts on that solution, but notice that in both cases, outside experts are relied upon to manage the services running on a public cloud. This is one of the key elements that’s needed in public cloud adoption – addressing the need for training staff or acquiring people as demand swells. This is particularly important for security due to the continuing cybersecurity skills shortage.

We’ll keep any eye out in this trend and see how it will spread to other cloud providers, or whether automated solutions will attempt to address the need for “elastic” staff.


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Topics: cloud managed services Cloud Platforms & Services