Canonical switches to OpenStack for Ubuntu Linux cloud

Canonical switches its cloud architecture and loses its chief cloud leader.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

OK, it’s not too surprising that Canonical, Ubuntu Linux’s parent company, has switched to OpenStack for its Ubuntu cloud foundation technology. After all, Canonical started flirting with OpenStack back in February. What is surprising is that Neil Levine, who as Canonical’s VP of corporate services, which included the cloud, has jumped ship to start a new company, Soba Labs.

First, for Ubuntu, OpenStack, and not Eucalyptus will make up the core of the Ubuntu Cloud. The company claims that the current releases of the Eucalyptus-based Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC), will not be impacted. Specifically, “Eucalyptus will continue to be a available for download and will be supported by Canonical. This means that customers who have deployed private clouds based on existing Ubuntu releases will continue to receive maintenance, and in the case of Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Long Term Support) this will continue through to April 2015. Eucalyptus will remain within Ubuntu and will be available for users who prefer this technology. For customers with existing private cloud deployments, Ubuntu will provide tools to automate the migration process to the Ubuntu Server 11.10 release when it is released in October 2011.”

In short, you can still use your Eucalyptus-based Ubuntu cloud, but sooner or later, you’ll be moving to the OpenStack version. For many users that will be in October with the Ubuntu Server 11.10 release

If you really like Eucalyptus for your cloud, you won't need to change though. According to Mårten Mickos Eucalyptus's CEO, “Eucalyptus will continue to fully support Ubuntu Linux. The UEC is a set of extensions to Eucalyptus that Canonical maintains as add-ons to the baseline set of Eucalyptus Ubuntu packages. We plan to continue to package Eucalyptus for Ubuntu; it is the set of add-ons that will no longer be supported by Canonical. While the packaging in UEC is a benefit for experimenters who want to get going quickly with an easy installation, production sites will want to configure their on-premise cloud to their own specification. They may even use multiple Linux distros in the same cloud deployment. Indeed, many of our users run Eucalyptus on Ubuntu Linux without Canonical's UEC enhancement.”

As for Levine, Soba’s Web site declares that its “developing an infrastructure analytics platform for cloud-based systems.” The business is currently in start-up mode.

What concerns me the most about this news is the technology side at all though. Cloud technologies are still in a state of flux. Companies will shift partners and technologies for another year or two before things finally settle down. No, what concerns me is that Canonical has now had two senior technical leaders leave. Last week Matt Zimmerman, Canonical’s long time CTO left the business. How much longer can Canonical keep its quality up when it’s also in the midst of making a dramatic change to its desktop interface:Ubuntu Unity?

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