Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Exclusive: Rackspace to Acquire Anso Labs

Web-hosting and cloud services provider Rackspace is acquiring Anso Labs, a San Francisco-based outfit that provides cloud consulting and services, according to sources familiar with the deal, which is small enough that financial terms are not going to be disclosed.

Anso Labs is helmed by Jesse Andrews, the former lead architect at Flock, the Web-browser company that was recently acquired by Zynga, and Soo Choi, a former exec at Booz Allen Hamilton. Anso Labs is best known for its work on the cloud computing front with NASA, the U.S. space agency.

The move takes place against the backdrop of a surge in consolidation in the cloud computing and data center business. Last week, Time Warner Cable dropped $230 million for NaviSite. And on Jan. 28, Verizon acquired Terremark for $1.4 billion. That one-two punch in data center deal-making has led to persistent speculation that other data center companies, Rackspace among them, will be rolled up by larger companies–like Hewlett-Packard, Dell or Cisco Systems–that are eager to add cloud services to their portfolio.

Ask Rackspace executives about this–and I have–and they’ll tell you they’re not thinking about that. Rather than being rolled up by someone else, they’re focused on rolling up the assets they want to grow, and to remain independent. Late last year Rackspace acquired Cloudkick, a start-up focused on building cloud monitoring tools.

Rackspace did $629 million in revenue in 2009, and is expected to show annual sales of about $775 million when it reports fourth-quarter earnings tomorrow. It has 100,000 customers, and while many of them are small- and medium-size businesses, larger enterprise customers like Coca-Cola, Target and Vodaphone are tapping Rackspace for Web hosting and to run their cloud applications.

Rackspace wants Anso Labs for its expertise and devotion to OpenStack, an open-source cloud computing software project backed by Rackspace, Dell, Citrix, Cisco and Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu flavor of Linux.

Rackspace wants to create a bunch of inter-operable cloud services so that customers can move workload from one cloud service provider to another at will, giving them increased flexibility. It’s comparable in some ways to vCloud from VMware and Eucalyptus.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik