The Need: Specialized Drupal Support
John Engates, CTO of Rackspace, explained during the conference that Rackspace enterprise-level customers have reached a point where they're consistently asking for Drupal (news, site) hosting that offers firewalls, load balancing, scaling and more. For 12 years his company has focused on web hosting, but their expertise is on the lower part of the stack.
While Rackspace knows Drupal, they don't have the deep expertise required to really tune the open source CMS and other aspects of the stack specifically for high end Drupal customers. People are betting their business and brand on their sites said Engates, and they want the best folks backing that up. In looking at the Drupal space, they decided that Acquia, which includes Drupal founder Dries Buytaert, had the puzzle piece they were missing to offer the level of service they were after.
The Offering: Rackspace Media Services
Rackspace recently launched Rackspace Media Services, which offers enterprise-level open source web infrastructure for the music recording industry for their direct-to-consumer properties. This new partnership combines Rackspace's cloud and managed hosting with Acquia's cloud-based Drupal hosting, giving Rackspace customers access to Acquia's experts for Drupal technical and service support.
Acquia CEO Thomas Erikson says that his company particularly liked Rackspace's focus on "fanatical support." Due to Rackspace's hardware roots, their cloud web hosting is backed by RAID-based storage and a lifecycle similar to their dedicated servers. Acquia likes the flexibility of the cloud because they find that when their customer sites become successful, the customers quickly become more IT administrators than Drupal admins as they fight to keep their sites from getting crushed by the traffic.
When it comes to the initial media focus, the cloud's ability to rapidly expand resources during traffic bursts is paramount. For this reason, some of the largest record labels in the world use Rackspace Media Services. A little hint as to one of them comes from Ethan Kaplan, who tweeted recently, "Three things I like: Drupal, Acquia and Rackspace. Now together http://j.mp/aQsVpt."
The two companies are discussing additional offerings as well. For example, whether they'll offer a white box version of Drupal Gardens through Rackspace. In the meantime, they'll expand their hosting and support beyond media into other industries.