Rackspace aims Red Label at enterprise Linux users

Rackspace Managed Hosting Ltd. unveiled Red Label, a bundle of Linux software and services running on Dell Inc. servers aimed at enterprise users, the company said Monday.

The move came in response to demand from high-end users who are looking for a vendor to manage their Linux deployments, according to a Rackspace executive.

“We’re not only helping customers who want to use Linux, but also those who don’t feel comfortable trying the operating system on their own and dealing with a variety of vendors,” Paul Froutan, Rackspace’s vice president of product engineering, said.

While developers in a large enterprise may feel at ease in the open-source Linux world, further up the management chain, CIOs (chief information officers) and their ilk, are often more comfortable having another company manage those operations, he added.

Froutan expects that only a small percentage of Rackspace’s existing customers will move to Red Label, but the company is hoping the offering attracts new enterprise business. “Customers are looking for more centralized support for Linux applications and services,” Froutan said. “There are a lot of tools that individual customers can’t put together.”

The Red Label services include application infrastructure support for software including databases from Oracle Corp. and MySQL and the JBoss and Apache Web servers along with multi-layer systems monitoring and proactive patching. Rackspace will also assign a lead engineer to each Red Label customer, according to Froutan.

The engineer will act as the customer’s representative to the Rackspace support team. Engineers in this role will familiarize themselves with the customer’s business, so they can let Rackspace know, for example, the best time to carry out maintenance on the customer’s systems, causing the least disruption to their operations, Froutan said. The company didn’t provide any pricing details for Red Label.

Rackspace currently has over 3,000 customers in the small and midsized business and enterprise markets, including Atari Inc. and Google Inc., Froutan said. The company has five data centers supporting its managed hosting operations and plans to open a second center in the U.K. by the end of the year, he added.

Last October, Rackspace was at the center of a media storm when the company complied with a U.S. federal order demanding the seizure of two servers it was hosting for Independent Media Center (Indymedia).

Rackspace is still forbidden from discussing the subpoena, including the reason for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s action.

Froutan said he wasn’t aware of any Rackspace customers expressing concerns in the wake of the seizure of the servers.

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