Rackspace, a managed web host, is one of the better-known names when it comes to hosting. They offer an array of modern services and have teams in place to handle technical questions. While their website makes a strong sales pitch, the reality is that most of their products are far better suited to enterprise customers than a small business with a simple website or online store. At the end of the day that's really the big question that prospective customers need to ask themselves: Do I really need all of these services, and am I willing to pay for them year after year?
There's no doubt that Rackspace is staffed by competent professionals. They have consistently been rated highly when it comes to reliability and customer support. However, having all of that service just a phone call away comes at a premium. Most small businesses set up their website and, aside from updating it occasionally, largely leave it alone. If you need a simple, straightforward homepage with information that doesn’t often change, then Rackspace may well be overkill. On the other hand, if your business makes it’s money by serving web content or ads, and that content is often updated and dynamic, then Rackspace may be exactly the host you’re looking for.
Rackspace is currently pushing a cloud service which stores your company's databases and documents on their network of servers. This can be extremely useful to a business with multiple locations, or a company that will expand rapidly and wants to keep IT overhead low. The fact is that in the majority of cases there are already proven solutions to sharing documents and backing up databases that don’t require ongoing service fees. Having data on the cloud can be an excellent, stress-free way to keep it safe, but it’s not a good fit for every user.
The email services at Rackspace fall into a similar category. While the price is better than their cloud offering, email is not particularly hard or expensive to maintain. Most web hosts have more affordable offerings that are just as good. Again, the benefits that Rackspace offers come from their reliability and customer support. In this case it’s easier to see where paying a little more might be a good fit even for small businesses. Email is crucial for many companies, and having someone available immediately on the phone to solve any problems that arise is certainly a plus.
Every consumer, before they select a web host, needs to honestly assess their needs. It’s a good idea to examine what services you expect not just in the immediate future, but years down the road. Ultimately migrating your website and email from one provider to another as you outgrow them is a hassle that many companies, given a choice, would rather not want to do. For an already large or expanding corporation, doing business with Rackspace is a good choice. For many small businesses, however, it might not be worth the price.
Review by Robert Gombos, senior editor.
1 Fanatical Place, City of Windcrest,