Canonical, the company behind the popular Linux distribution Ubuntu, is positioning itself to be a big player in the Cloud based era. They are plotting their move towards Clouds simultaneously through many different routes, from marrying Ubuntu desktop and server editions to Cloud to offering storage as a service to SaaS based management services. In this edition of the Open Source and Cloud Computing Series, I am going to dig deeper into their plans and try to understand the impact of their moves.
While Richard Stallman is busy spreading FUD about Cloud Computing, individuals and companies are realizing the importance of Open Source in a Cloud based world. They are seeing the advantages of such a marriage in ensuring a complete interoperability and no vendor lock-in. Mark Shuttleworth and his friends at Canonical realized the potential of Cloud Computing and have started making moves to integrate their products and services into the Clouds. Even though it is too early to see the impact of their moves, the early adoption of Cloud Computing by Canonical has a potential to push them to be a major player in the enterprises, similar to IBM and Microsoft in the previous eras.
Canonical’s first foray into Cloud Computing came with an announcement that they will offer Amazon EC2 images of their Ubuntu Server Edition. They also included a tool called ubuntu-vm-builder
as a part of their distribution and this tool can be used to build custom Amazon Machine Images (AMIs). Then, they announced that Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope (Ubuntu 9.04) will include Eucalyptus to create and manage Amazon API compatible private clouds. By doing this, Canonical was trying to position Ubuntu to be the OS of choice for private cloud deployments. Ubuntu 9.04 is just a beginning of their foray into the Cloud Computing. Probably, it could be considered as a testbed for more powerful features in the future editions.
In the next version of Ubuntu due in October 2009, code-named Karmic Koala, they are planning to include tools that will make the experience of building private clouds a child’s play. In addition to Eucalyptus, this version will make it easy to deploy applications into the Cloud built on top of Ubuntu. Their Server Edition comes with basic Cloud administrator tools for managing their cloud deployments and a web-based interface for configuration of the Cloud. They are also planning to build scalability into the system so that resources are provisioned and de-provisioned dynamically based on the needs. The private clouds built using this version of Ubuntu Server Edition can scale up and down effortlessly without any manual intervention, thereby, ensuring tremendous cost savings. Imagine the impact of such a release on the enterprises looking to tap into Cloud like architecture without moving their data and apps to third party vendors. This release will surely hit the sweet spot for Cloud Computing in the enterprises.
I wrote about Canonical’s attempts to offer Storage as a Service. In my opinion, this offering, in its current avatar, is not well positioned to capture a solid market share. If they can reposition this offering and, also, integrate deeply with Ubuntu Desktop Editions, there is a chance for them to gain some traction among the businesses looking for a seamless integration between their desktops and Cloud based storage services.
Earlier in this post, I mentioned about Canonical bundling Cloud Administrator tools and a web based interface for managing servers. Canonical took a bold step here and introduced Landscape, their SaaS offering to help business customers manage and monitor their server and cloud deployments. Landscape offers a web based interface to manage various parameters in the systems. These systems, connected to the internet, securely interacts with Landscape central servers to update information on the systems that are being monitored. Depending on the packages installed on these systems, Landscape ensures that updates are downloaded directory from the repositories and installed on these systems. Landscape simplifies and automates the role of system admins by allowing users to manage many systems from the web interface. Landscape makes it easy to manage all machines or groups of machines with each groups having different requirements, install and manage custom repositories, manage users, security, etc.. It offers a fine grained control of the IT/Cloud infrastructure.
Landscape also allows users to manage Cloud environments much like how physical systems are managed. Landscape supports Amazon EC2 instances running Ubuntu. It is also possible to manage a hybrid infrastructure containing cloud like deployment within one’s own data center and third party providers. Landscape also allows complete system monitoring like resource usage, trends, process information, hardware inventory, security audits, etc.. Landscape is available free of charge to all canonical support customers and at a cost of $150 per year per node for those who don’t want to subscribe for Ubuntu support from Canonical.
Apart from all these product offerings geared towards the Clouds, Canonical is also offering a set of services that will help businesses move their infrastructure to a Cloud-like architecture. They offer consultancy for Cloud deployment, training and support for Cloud infrastructure,
Canonical has got the Clouds right. They are positioning themselves to gain market share even in these early days of enterprise cloud adoption. In my opinion, it is a smart move and it will help them propel into the future Cloud marketplace as one of the biggest players. Canonical will ensure that Open Source and Cloud Computing co-exist in a perfect harmony enhancing each other.
Related Articles from Zemanta:
- Canonical punts Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope (theregister.co.uk)
- Will Karmic Koala & A Bad Economy Conspire to Make Ubuntu The New Leader? (lockergnome.com)
- Shuttleworth gets cloudy with Ubuntu 9.10 (theregister.co.uk)
- Eucalyptus to be Included in Next Ubuntu Release (berkeleyclouds.blogspot.com)
- Talking to Simon Wardley about Ubuntu and the Cloud (cloudofdata.com)
- Ubuntu will target cloud computing with October release (infoworld.com)
- Rich Wolski discusses Grids, Clouds, and the past, present and future of EUCALYPTUS (cloudave.com)
- Ubuntu Server: Private Computing Clouds (brianwmackay.blogspot.com)