RackConnect gets security, automation features

The new features are geared toward making it easier for businesses to use Rackspace's RackConnect offering

Rackspace is making some updates to RackConnect, an offering designed to let businesses securely connect and run applications across private and public cloud services.

RackConnect aims to maintain the security that businesses get in their own data centers or in Rackspace's managed hosting environment even when they fall back on cloud services to support spikes in traffic, said Toby Owen, senior manager of hybrid cloud solutions for Rackspace. The free offering makes a connection between either a customer's firewall or load balancers in Rackspace's dedicated hosting environment to Rackspace's cloud service, isolating the customer's traffic from other users of the cloud service.

Rackspace said that around 10 percent of its customers are using RackConnect, which was introduced about a year ago. The updates come in response to customer feedback, Owen said.

The new features include automation capabilities that let users more easily add new cloud servers. In the past, adding a new cloud server involved some manual steps to set up things like load balancing. With the updated product, users will be able to spin up new servers that are load balanced automatically, he said.

In addition, users will be able to set security policies that are automatically applied to new servers. A user will define a security policy one time rather than having to manually configure security settings with each cloud server.

"It eliminates administrative overhead and helps maintain a secure environment," Owen said.

RackConnect will also now be available for users of cheaper Cisco firewalls, opening the door for smaller companies that are more likely to use the lower-cost firewalls. Rackspace hopes that the move may encourage smaller businesses, which may have been hesitant to move to the cloud because of security reasons, to start using cloud services, Owen said.

Rackspace has seen demand for RackConnect from the kinds of businesses most likely to want to use cloud services as a backup in case of spikes in traffic. For instance, e-commerce sites that attract large numbers of users at certain times because of marketing promotions are using RackConnect to securely connect their hosted servers with cloud servers, he said.

The updated features in RackConnect become available on Tuesday. RackConnect can only be used with F5 load balancers or Cisco's ASA firewalls.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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Nancy Gohring

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