Rackspace breaks out block storage with disk and SSD options

Rackspace(s rax) continued to roll out pieces of its OpenStack cloud Tuesday with the debut of Cloud Block Storage.

Rackspace CTO John Engates

Unlike its current non-OpenStack storage, this offering lets customers mix and match sizes of block storage volumes as needed with their compute instances. “We used to offer block storage associated with our cloud servers but it came in pre-defined bundles — large servers got a lot of storage, small servers got a small amount. This decouples that decision,” Rackspace CTO John Engates said in an interview.

And, unlike Amazon(s amzn) Rackspace offers both a traditional disk-based tier for $0.15 per GB per month and faster solid state disk (SSD)-based storage, for $0.70 per GB per month.  Snapshots cost an additional $0.10 per GB per month.

Amazon’s(S amzn) analogous  Elastic Block Storage (EBS) is $0.10 per GB/month for provisioned storage for standard volumes,  or $0.125 per GB/month for provisioned IOPS volumes. But Amazon also charges for I/O. Amazon does not offer an SSD EBS tier, although starting this summer it did initiate new “High I/O Quadruple Extra Large” compute instances that use SSD to store and retrieve data fast

Solid-state storage has become an important part of the cloud equation with many vendors. It is very fast, and its coming down in price, but it’s still far more expensive than traditional “spinning disks.”

Rackspace hopes to parlay its OpenStack cloud implementation to challenge Amazon in public cloud and other competitors — including others in the OpenStack camp — in private cloud infrastructure.  A report last week that retail giant Walmart (s wmt) is using Rackspace’s OpenStack cloud to power its big data analysis efforts has buoyed the company. Neither Walmart nor Rackspace will comment on the report which came from William Blair analyst Jim Breen.