Rackspace (RAX) has a new strategy for keeping competitive in the cloud hosting market, and it's all about offering cloud management expertise and support alongside hosting infrastructure.

Starting this week, Rackspace will be offering two new managed cloud service plans. The base package, called Managed Infrastructure, provides guidance in cloud architecture, security, development and deployment, in addition to general support and around-the-clock access to Rackspace engineering staff.

The upper-level service plan, Managed Operations, is even more interesting by providing direct management of cloud servers either by Rackspace staff or automated software, at the customer's choosing. That plan, which also includes everything that is a part of the base package described above, allows customers to build and manage clouds with virtually no investment in in-house cloud expertise.

Pricing for the two plans is an hourly service level rate of $0.005/GB RAM, with a $50 per month minimum, for the base plan, and $0.02/GB RAM/$500-per-month minimum.

Rackspace hopes the new service plans will attract "businesses and developers looking for a strong partner to help design, manage, scale and grow their cloud operations," it said, by combining hosting and engineering into a single package.

The company is also highlighting the novelty of being able to outsource all IT operations by leveraging the cloud. "Everything we offer customers is now managed, and we are the company that will be with them every step of the way to make their cloud strategy successful," said Graham Weston, Rackspace founder and CEO.