Last week I had the opportunity to join my colleagues at Rackspace at a customer event at the New York Stock Exchange where they shared their vision for the future of cloud computing.

The evening began with cocktails on The NYSE Trading Floor where @kiwilark and I mingled with @scobleizer, @rocmanUSA and @rjamestaylor, among many others.

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From there we moved to The Historic NYSE Boardroom for an intimate dinner with Rackspace customers and prospects where we heard from RackSpace Chief Technology Officer John Engates (@jengates) discuss Rackspace's business and their view on cloud computing.

One of the issues many IT managers and CIOs face today is continued pressure to lower their capital expenditure, even if that means that operating expenses increase in the short term. This is where Rackspace's view that companies won't move everything to the cloud immediately comes in.

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 In the current economic environment, they may choose to pilot cloud hosting for their e-mail services or to host a blog or wiki. Their view is that they use these smaller projects to essentially kick the tires of cloud computing, which may eventually lead them to move more of their computing requirements to the cloud. This seems practical to me. I imagine many CIOs and IT managers are pretty conservative in their approach to making technology available to their clients, their employees. Why risk your company's life-blood, it's data, because it sits in a cloud somewhere under someone else's watchful eye. I imagine cloud computing will see a crawl, walk, run approach in the coming years. This mirrors much of what our own Data Center Solutions team is seeing as develop optimized systems for hyper-scale, search engine and other types of data center customers.

Rackspace's Chief Strategy Officer and President of its Cloud Business, Lew Moorman, was recently interviewed by Larry Dignan on their vision: "The theory: Customers will begin toggling between hosted data centers and cloud computing resources as standard operating procedure." He also blogged about it here.

One of John's slides resonated with many in the audience. It said: "Cloud is part of a computing strategy: Everyone, NOT Everything." I take that to mean that leveraging the power and ubiquity of cloud computing IS for every one or every company, but not necessarily for every single application.

Rackspace is clearly a force to be reckoned with in the hosting and cloud computing space and they have some big goals. As an example of how they're pushing the envelope, they recently hired Robert Scoble and Rocky Barbanica to build out a community of Internet fanatics called building43. Michael Arrington recently wrote an article describing exactly what Robert will be doing with building43

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If you haven't been to the site, it's really cool and has recently featured interviews Robert and team have done with leading Internet companies, industry thought leaders and people and companies that are using technology in unique and cool ways.

Some of those interviews include Luke Kilpatrick who runs Fire On The Bay, an Adobe Fireworks Users Group; Don Tapscott, author of "Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything" as well as eleven other books on the Internet and other topics; and, Kelly Nelson, director of marketing at the Four Seasons Hotel in Palo Alto, who is the first person within the Four Seasons family to use Twitter on behalf of the hotel chain.