Rackspace Buys Cloudkick. Here Is Why

Updated: Rackspace (s rax) is moving up the cloud stack by acquiring Cloudkick, a San Francisco-based startup that provides server management and monitoring as a service. The acquisition represents a quick exit for Cloudkick, which just exited beta in January and only incorporated on-premise server management in March. The need for Rackspace to offer monitoring and management tools is clear, but Rackspace already has a partnership with CA-owned Nimsoft (s ca). I suspect the purchase was spurred by a desire to compete more closely with Amazon Web Services (s amzn).

What’s curious is that Rackspace and Nimsoft only announced their relationship in April, and collaborated on new Nimsoft features just this month. Although both Nimsoft and Cloudkick can monitor cloud, managed and on-premise servers, Nimsoft appears to provide management capabilities beyond what Cloudkick provides, especially as it relates to managing physical servers. I’m awaiting word on how the Cloudkick acquisition affects the Nimsoft relationship, but it might not affect it at all. Part of Rackspace’s business as an MSP is to provide support atop a variety of third-party services, so it might give customers the choice of using either service.

Update: Lew Moorman, president of Rackspace Cloud and chief strategy officer of Rackspace, responded via email,“We have a solid relationship with Nimsoft (and CA) and they will continue to be at the center of our Enterprise offering for in-depth application and infrastructure monitoring. The [Cloudkick] toolset will be used more broadly for general SysAdmin level monitoring and reporting.”

What is clear, though, is that AWS just announced a slew of new features for its CloudWatch monitoring service, and Rackspace might not want to have to rely on third parties for monitoring its services. Cloudkick also gives Rackspace users the ability to monitor services outside of Rackspace’s, including AWS, GoGrid, SoftLayer and Linode. Users won’t get that with Amazon’s CloudWatch. Rackspace might not be within spitting distance of AWS in terms of cloud market share, but it is, by all accounts,  a solid No. 2 and certainly doesn’t want to lose that position by sitting idle.

Also, integration into OpenStack — the Rackspace-led open source IaaS platform — might have something to do with this acquisition. Cloudkick was already contributing to the project, although not by offering its code. Rackspace denies any plans to incorporate Cloudkick code into OpenStack in the future, but we can’t ignore the possibility of that happening. Rackspace need not give away the entirety of  the Cloudkick product via OpenStack, but some basic monitoring capabilities would make for a more-complete offering.

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