A few weeks ago, I blogged about Rackspace and Mosso’s new Cloud Servers product. Cloud Servers will compete with Amazon’s EC2 product. Here’s a quick overview from their site:

Cloud Servers will be priced per instance hour and will start at $0.015 per hour ($10.95 for a full month of usage). Since you only pay by the hour, it will be really easy and affordable to spin up a new instance for testing or development—and then simply remove it when you’re done.

I’ve finally had a chance to log in and start up a few Cloud Servers and let me tell you, I was very impressed. The administrative control panel is easy and quick to navigate around, the servers started up quickly and accessing them via SSH was a breeze.

Here are a few other thoughts I had from spending an evening with Cloud Servers…

I like the fact you can make backups and they make automatic daily, weekly and monthly backups of your data. If you are worried about losing data, you may want to do automatic backups more often. If your Cloud Server instance happens to crash, they are able to migrate some data. They say:

One of the most significant differences between Cloud Servers and EC2 is the persistence of each virtual server. Cloud Servers has access to local, RAID10 disk storage—much like you’d expect in a physical server. This is important because it means your Cloud Server has inherent protection against drive failures. If for some reason the host does fail or become degraded, we will restart and/or migrate your cloud server for you. A failure doesn’t mean that your cloud server goes away.

Keep in mind – similar to EC2, if you shut off your instance, your data is lost.

I like the different varieties of OS available, including CentOS, Ubuntu, Debian, Gentoo and Red Hat. Because of licensing issues, if you use Red Hat, you will pay a little more for your server. Amazon does this with EC2 servers running Windows.

I found connecting via SSH much easier to do compared to Amazon’s system of keypairs and certificates. Cloud Servers give you a root password. I’m not saying Amazon’s way is bad or Cloud Servers are less secure, but it was easier to just grab the password and connect. This may be useful if you have multiple people working on a Cloud Server instance.

I very much like the fact you can run a server for $11 a month + bandwidth costs.

One thing I like about EC2 is the fact you can get machine images pre-configured for a multitude of uses – LAMP, ROR, video encoding and more. When you start a Cloud Server, you’re given a blank slate. When I started my first instance, I wasn’t sure how to even get Apache installed and running, though I eventually found their extensive help documents. BTW, I installed Apache on CentOS using this:

sudo yum install httpd mod_ssl

In the end, I’m sure this could all be automated but it would be great if Mosso would let you save a setup or suite of apps you’d like to have installed at startup. I’d wait a few more minutes for my server to be live if I didn’t have to manually install Apache, MySQL and PHP every time.

Overall, I’m very pleased with Cloud Servers. Ease-of-use coupled with Rackspace’s support makes this a strong player right out of the gate. I know I will definitely include them when planning new web apps in the future.

Here are a few screenshots I took while spinning up my server.

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