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Rackspace or Amazon EC2 - What Do You Prefer?

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I was using Amazon EC2 for hosting all of my company's web apps, and services, and it was doing pretty good until there were fewer users, and less number of services running as well.

Instances, which were the best feature on Amazon's Ec2 platform, turned out to be the worst nightmare after the outages, and the performance also began to degrade slowly... And, then more of scaling had to be done.

Rather than building a very compound architecture, I just thought about shifting to the Rackspace and yes it turned out to be a good thing as such! But, of course, I’m not telling that the services offered by EC2 are bad, or those provided by Rackspace are good, but each one has its own share of advantages, and downsides.

I have basically evaluated few of the basic features and tried to give a brief comparative analysis of Amazon EC2 vs Rackspace; so, here we go -

Pricing

If you look at the pricing part, which is displayed on website of both the vendors, it is almost the same but once you dig into the detail, that’s when you will find a world of difference.

Rackspace users have an advantage as they get an option of paying just 1.5 cents per year, whereas in case of EC2, Amazon doesn't provide any such option. When it comes to size of the machine, EC2 offers either too much or too little size and the pricing depends upon the number of instances running; on the other hand, Rackspace offers a mid-size cost effective solution, which isn't to be seen on Ec2 again.

Even when it comes to the storage space, Amazon offers 100GB and charges for it completely, irrespective of whether you use 50 GB, 5GB or even lesser, but Rackspace allows you to take back-ups and does not charge you anything for that either. Amazon charges for every I/O operation that you perform, whereas the Rackspace does not… So far so good for Rackspace, but Ec2 isn't an all-out loser in any aspect; it's a great choice for corporate giants, and even start-ups. Amazon Ec2 delivers where Rackspace fails – and basically Rackspace is meant to serve as an intermediate option for mid-size businesses that require a balance between the two extremes of Ec2.

Performance

Performance is of course, one of most important things that one would look at, before really choosing a service, but you need not worry about the performance in either case, and in fact there's hardly any noteworthy difference, as they are both hosted on cloud.

But, off-late, we've seen several outages at AWS, while Rackspace has never been affected that badly by any outage that has caused a huge blow to the customers; but, then you must remember that lightening had struck the Amazon cloud centre, and one can't simply blame a business for being wiped out by Tsunami or other natural disasters.

How to Choose!

Well, if you want to make a fair assessment, you will have to take a look at the price for the performance you get, and the flexibility each vendor offers; Rackspace will cost you 30 percent lesser than the Amazon EC2 at smaller scale, but then you get the pricing advantage for the bigger orders at Amazon, which is why I'd recommend Amazon Ec2 to start-ups and corporate giants, while Rackspace would be the way to go for the SMEs.

Once again, this is my personal opinion, and as mentioned earlier, the choice largely depends upon your specific requirements, and nature, size of your business. But, I must also confess that the amount of faith I've got in Amazon despite all those outages, is lot more than Rackspace (again I'm not saying Amazon is superior or anything!), and I'd go with any Amazon product without even thinking twice!

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