Reselling Rackspace Cloud Servers

Yesterday my colleague, Mike Mozey, posted a great article on reselling hosting services using the Rackspace Cloud Sites platform. Since then we have received several inquiries about reselling our Cloud Servers platform so I thought I’d post some thoughts on this subject.

Cloud Servers does not yet have built-in reseller functionality in our control panel and it may be some time before we see something similar to Cloud Sites implemented. This leaves you with a few different options:

  1. You can leverage the robust Cloud Servers API and develop your own front-end control panel for communicating with our services programmatically. This would allow your customers to login to a custom interface (you would have to build) for your specific brand and perform the same functions you would in the Rackspace Cloud control panel. This option would require intensive development work, but you could essentially put your own face on top of the Cloud Servers infrastructure and have your own management portal for each customer.
  2. If you don’t want to go so far as to build your own control panel for your customers, some of our current resellers have a custom sign-up process for their customers that trigger the deployment of a Cloud Server and the customer is simply provided with the IP address of their server and the root login credentials. You would still need to implement your own usage tracking and billing portal for your customers, but there are many open-source and commercial products that you can leverage for this piece.
  3. Another common method for reselling using Cloud Servers (not necessarily reselling Cloud Servers themselves) is to offer standard shared hosting type plans by carving up your server instances. You can do this with a wide variety of open source software or commercial control panels such as cPanel/WHM. The great benefit here in comparison to offering this type of hosting on a dedicated server is the fact that you can easily scale up your resources as your customer base increases. Purchase for actual demand, not planned demand and you will save a lot. This is the power of Cloud hosting.

I hope this article helps to clarify some of the questions about reselling the Cloud Servers platform. It may take a little more work and the implementation of an outside billing system and some custom development, but it allows you to be highly flexible with your business workflow. If you have not seem the API guides for Cloud Servers or Cloud Files be sure to check them out.

If you have any questions feel free to email me or post a comment below and I’ll get you an answer!

UPDATE: One important thing I forgot to mention is that the Rackspace Cloud is soon going to launch their new reseller program which will provide volume based discounts to registered resellers. So if you build up a large client base leveraging the Rackspace Cloud platforms not only can you add your own value to our infrastructure but you will receive discounts on your monthly service at different tiers based on your monthly recurring charges. The more services you resell, the lower it will cost you which only increases your profit margins more.

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  • http://ejdraper.com Elliott Draper

    Great article. For anyone looking to leverage the Cloud Servers API using Ruby (for example, from their own Rails application), you can use a gem I built, rackspace-cloud: http://github.com/ejdraper/rackspace-cloud. It covers the basics for now (servers, flavors and images), but is perfect for firing up and managing servers programmatically. If anyone uses it and has any questions or queries, please let me know!

    • http://www.chadkeck.com Chad

      Thanks Elliott!

  • http://rackspacereseller.com Stephen Pickering

    Hi Chad,

    I am currently reselling Rackspace Cloud Sites. What is the difference between Cloud Sites and Cloud Servers?

    • http://www.chadkeck.com Chad

      Stephen,

      Cloud Sites is our fully managed platform Cloud that provides an environment which scales automatically with your traffic, an easy to use control panel, an entire email platform and more. Sites offers a traditional LAMP and Windows stack as well. This platform is built primarily for hosting web sites and web applications that use the frameworks and technologies we specifically support on it.

      Cloud Servers allows you to deploy virtual dedicated server instances which are just like having a dedicated server. You have complete control over the machine (full SSH/root access) and can install any application stack, framework, DB, etc that you like. You do have to manage the environment from the OS and up, but if you need that level of control it is there. You can also get very granular with the amount of resources you need at a specific time and the server can be resized almost instantly anytime, so you truly pay only for what you are using.

      I hope this helps but if you have further questions don’t hesitate to ask!

      -Chad

  • http://piersonthe.net Piers

    What’s the difference between Cloud Servers and Slicehost?

    • http://www.chadkeck.com Chad

      The main differences lie in the integration with the other Rackspace Cloud platforms, Fanatical Support and the utility billing model. On Slicehost you will have standard monthly billing with bandwidth included where as Cloud Servers offers hourly billing based on your instance size and pure utility bandwidth.

      Also, Cloud Servers is launching support for Windows in early 2010 which you will not find on Slicehost. I hope this helps.

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  • http://ethan.luffle.com Ethan

    Would it be possible to get shell access to Sites? The only reason why I would go with Servers is because of that.

    • http://www.chadkeck.com Chad

      Ethan,

      Unfortunately it is not possible to get shell access to the servers on Cloud Sites. There are many reasons for this, but the main reason is that because you are not hosted on a single physical server, we cannot allow specific users to change global settings. However, this can be done on a per domain basis with htaccess (on Linux).

      If you are looking for easier file manipulation there are tools you can leverage that will give you some of this functionality. One that many of our Cloud Sites customers use is called ExpanDrive (www.expandrive.com).

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  • http://www.massmarketing.se Per-Olof Hermansson

    I opened an account to do some experimenting. I currently have a VPS with 512MB (guaranteed with burst of up to 1024MB), and with 40 GB Harddisk. I also have cPanel/WHM installed.

    I mostly host small customers, for example voluntary organizations, and they usually have Joomla, or WordPress with a forum. At the moment I have about 12 customers that I host (and I do most of the technical work).

    What would be the equivalent setup be on Rackspace cloud, and what would that cost?

  • pavan

    The info u provided on cloud reselling is very good. I would like to know how a reseller implements the model i.e does he have to use the api provided by the service provider or can he develop his own api. Does the reseller need any infrastructure to implement reselling model. could u guide through the process thrpugh an example in detail how reselling model implemented at the technical level.

  • http://ontheready.com ZerOreZ

    Excellent stuff here someone needs to put out a step by step guide to procuring, packaging, and pricing these offering to clients. This is so hot right now, it would be great to get some training/education on how we can most efficiently bring it to market.

    • http://www.chadkeck.com Chad

      Absolutely, but remember that pricing has a lot to do with the value that you would individually would add to the service. Something to think about…

  • http://www.gigenetcloud.com Chris Armer

    Gigenetcloud is going to be putting its very nice whitelabel reseller panel back up for users once its nice and polished. Resellers should check it out.

    Chris Armer
    VP of Operations
    http://www.gigenetcloud.com
    http://www.gigenet.com

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