Canonical has brought techniques used to manage virtual instances to physical 'bare metal' servers in Ubuntu 12.04.
The 'Metal-as-a-Service' tool is now available for Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2. Image credit: Canonical
MaaS broadens the remit of Canonical's JuJu software so that, along with helping to manage software and services, the software can also remotely manage, allocate and provision to physical servers.
With the technology, Canonical is "trying to bring the cloud experience to traditional hardware," Dave Walker, an engineering manager for Ubuntu server infrastructure, told ZDNet UK. "MaaS has the intelligence to bring machines together and to deploy based on merit from what the payload is."
MaaS automates the installation of scale-out software, such as OpenStack or Hadoop, onto physical nodes. It bears resemblance to a proprietary tool developed by Dell, named Crowbar, which helps administrators scale up and down the physical assets that underpin an OpenStack installation.
The software is designed for people that write their own deployment tools for pre-execution environment (PXE) setup — a method that lets administrators boot an operating system via the network. MaaS is designed to make this process less buggy and more stable, Walker said.
"I think we've been smart to try and link together what people are already doing but in a polished solution," he said. "Also I think it's currently difficult to scale what people are currently doing to a vast array of servers."
MaaS is theoretically scalable to 100,000 nodes, he said. A production environment will need one MaaS node per rack, he said.