Rackspace the # 2 Cloud provider has expanded their IaaS offering to include Windows Server images at a price range from $.04/hr ( 512M  RAM / 20GB Disk ) up to $1.08 ( 15.5GB  RAM / 620 GB ) The entry price is certainly attractive and appears to be the lowest in the industry. Terremark starts at $.042 and the Amazon AWS entry price is $.12 per hour however these are equal comparisons. To pick a normalized example of an 8 GB RAM system with 320 GB of Disk with Windows Server Enterprise 64 Bit and run it continuously for a month:

Month Hourly
Rackspace Cloud $ 417 $0.58 8 GB RAM 320 GB Disk Included in base
Amazon – AWS $ 394 $0.48 7.5 GB RAM, Incl. 320 GB S3 Storage
Terremark – vCloud $ 607 $0.722 Incl. .01 IP and 320 GB Disk
SoftLayer – CloudLayer $ 435 $0.50 Incl. Windows Server + 350 GB Disk

Not included is bandwidth charges which depend on the provider as usage which can vary significantly as well as other options. From a maturity Amazon point of view has been around the longest and as a result has the most cloud features and pricing options. For example Amazon also offers Spot pricing and reserved pricing which can significantly reduce the hourly charge but have limitations. However the other Public Cloud providers are rapidly adding to their offerings. Softlayer already offers reduced pricing for monthly commitments. One of the missing features I was looking for at Rackspace was the ability to save of a VM and only be charged for storage. However in the current beta status Rackspace does not provide this but plans to once out of Beta. This along with other planned features from Rackspace will make them a very attractive cloud option. In addition the Rackspace Cloud is built on the Enterprise worthy XenServer hypervisor with the Windows Server fully supported by Microsoft.

Signing up for Rackspace Cloud was straight forward with a credit card, although once signed up you can not immediately get to work. They need to call you make sure you are human… and not a spammer. This only took about 5 minutes however. The  web based console is simple and easy to follow. I tested a barebones 4 cent  512MB Windows 2008 32 Bit server and it ran very well. Another feature I would look forward to is ready made images as Virtual Appliances. Amazon AWS for example has ready made XenApp images that can be started immediately with no installation. ( See how to get your own XenApp server for 12 Cents and 15 Minutes ) With Rackspace you currently get a choice of 5 Windows Server OS’s including the most current Windows Server 2008 R2, however you need to build all of your images on top of that.

With the Rackspace Windows Cloud offering companies of any size now have real choices for evaluating what makes sense to move or backup to the Cloud. For SMB’s it’s a low cost easy to use solution ( plus they may already have their web site hosted there as thousands do ) For enterprises they get a Microsoft supported Windows OS and XenServer Hypervisor along with the famous Rackspace “Fanatical Support” plus an optional API interface and growing roadmap of features.

Cloud Economics 101 Part 1 – Premise vs Cloud vs Colo

Cloud Economics 101 Part 2 – Premise Plus Cloud

Cloud Economics 101 Part 3 – Amazon Reserved Pricing

Cloud Economics 101 Part 4 – Amazon EC2 vs Terremark vCloud Express

Rackspace Cloud console screen shots: