Canonical brings Ubuntu to the OpenStack Cloud

OpenStack seems to be on its way to being the open-source software cloud stack of choice.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Believe it or not, OpenStack, the extremely popular open-source software cloud stack is just over six-months old. Someone new to cloud-computing might find that hard to believe since today, February 3rd, Cisco, the 800-pound gorilla of networking, and Canonical, parent of Ubuntu Linux, have both joined forces with OpenStack.

Historically, Canonical has been allied with the other popular open-source cloud stack, Eucalyptus since it began working in clouds. Indeed, Canonical, in partnership with Dell, has just launched a private cloud server package using the Eucalyptus cloud platform.

Be that as it may, Canonical's Cloud Solutions Lead, Nick Barcet, announced that Canonical was including the latest OpenStack software release, Bexar "in the repositories for Ubuntu 11.04 as well as officially joining the community. We have been engaged with the OpenStack community informally for some time. Some Canonical alumni have been key to driving the OpenStack initiative over in Rackspace and there has been a very healthy dialogue between the two projects with strong attendance at UDS (Ubuntu Developer Summit) and at the OpenStack conferences by engineers in both camps."

Barcet goes on, "that the OpenStack project has taken a lot of the methodology of the Ubuntu project and applied to how they self-organise and release. They have the same twice-yearly open conference to drive the definition of the project and a similar but three-monthly release cycle. It's easy to forget that this now 'standard', time based, approach to open source development and release was pioneered by Ubuntu and it is gratifying to see it permeate."

Ubuntu won't be leaving Eucalyptus in the lurch. Barcet wrote, "It has always been the goal of Ubuntu with regards to cloud to offer the best integrated experience for open source cloud development and deployment. We did it with Eucalyptus for Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud for the past two years and the next release of this in April will continue on offering a great fully-supported option for businesses looking to bring cloud technology within the firewall."

So what is the plan for OpenStack? Barcet explained, "Our aim with OpenStack over time is to make Ubuntu the best OS for clouds built on this stack, both at the infrastructure and guest levels. There is real energy and momentum building around this technology and we congratulate the guys and girls in that project for their success so far. It looks a terrific base for building out open-source based public clouds and its embracing on not just its own APIs (application programming interfaces) but also the EC2 APIs. This offers great options for users and customers to remain flexible as we move towards industry-wide open standards for these types of architectures."

Specifically, "In 11.04 (Natty Narwhal), OpenStack 2011.1 (Bexar) will be delivered as a technology preview, and Canonical will not yet be able to provide full support for it. We first want to allow our users to test it and provide us feedback before providing it as a production ready environment. Comments, feedback and reactions are welcome on the Ubuntu-Cloud mailing list, forum and IRC channels."

The question remains though, in the face of competition from Microsoft and VMware is there really room for two different open-source approaches to the cloud? I suspect that Eucalyptus and OpenStack may yet end up working together. I hope they do. It would be nice if, to borrow an old phrase from Sun, if the open-source cloud companies could get all the wood behind one arrow.

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