Rackspace rebrands with open cloud mantra

Now that it’s brought its OpenStack implementations to market, Rackspace(s rax) is rebranding itself as “the open cloud company.”

The company’s name, Rackspace Hosting, remains unchanged, but a new logo and the rebranding acknowledges how the IT market — or at least the perception of the IT market — has changed in the era of cloud computing.

This may be a cosmetic move, but it’s important nonetheless and comes the day Rackspace is slated to announce its second quarter earnings.  The company, with OpenStack in its quiver, now faces off with Amazon(s amzn) in the public cloud sector and with its own partners, Microsoft(s msft) and VMware(s vmw), that have cloud aspirations of their own, not to mention a fleet of other OpenStack purveyors including Hewlett-Packard(s hpq) and Internap(s inap). (OpenStack, which proponents are pushing as “the Linux of the cloud” is getting some traction. Ebay(s ebay) is working with Nicira on an OpenStack cloud, for example.)

Rackspace CMO Suaad Sait views the rebranding as an extension, rather than a replacement of the company’s current mantra of “fanatical support.”

Rackspace remains committed to providing deployment choice — on-premises, private, hybrid and public cloud options are all available, Sait said in an interview Monday.

“Grey hairs like me remember companies looking for hosting services. Today, companies look for cloud services. Both are back-end IT infrastructure — it’s all hosting but described in a different way,” he said.

Rackspace,  San Antonio, TX., is at an interesting juncture. It launched the OpenStack open-source cloud effort with NASA just over two years ago and is now transitioning the work into a foundation-led project, ceding some of that control. It has also been challenged  with defections of one key OpenStack partner — Citrix launched CloudStack as an OpenStack competitor in April. It also saw the departure of several key programmers to Nebula a few weeks ago.

But those speed bumps aside, even those who see Amazon as the prohibitive cloud power admit that it’s still early in the war, there’s time for other powers with the right combination of technology and service to emerge.  And even as Rackspace built infrastructure to support the largest IT deployments, Amazon has bolstered the services it — and its partners — offer business customers.

It’s going to be an interesting race.