Canonical's Mark Shuttleworth doubles down on OpenStack

Some people may think OpenStack is getting tired, but Canonical and Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth is doubling down on the open-source IaaS cloud and shares his thoughts on "dueling" open-source foundations.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

At Open Infrastructure Summit in Denver, Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical and Ubuntu Linux's founder, said in his keynote: "I'm here because I believe OpenStack is one of the most extraordinary projects in the history of open source. I'm here to double down on my commitment to OpenStack."

He didn't just praise OpenStack which turns 10 this year. He also praised open source itself: "The great thing about open source -- the important thing about open source -- is that it enables innovation to come from everywhere: Developers, users, and customers. We have to make sure that the bright ideas, the best ideas are the ideas that spread the fastest."

That's important "because we're no longer the rebel outsiders. We are, in a sense, becoming the Empire," he said. Therefore, "It's really important for us to think about how we want to be. To me, how we play matters as much as ... our ideas. We want to be different to the leaders [of] the previous Empire. And we have to choose every day to be different."

That means we don't want to "replace dueling vendors with dueling foundations. If a foundation will only promote work that is paid by vendors, behind that fig leaf is something ugly," Shuttleworth said.

He continued: 

I'm a fan of George Orwell's book 1984. If you are, and maybe you're also uncomfortable with language that suggests all open-source projects are equal, some are more equal than others. [It's] really important for us to find and celebrate the best ideas. What's the difference between a vendor that only promotes the ideas that are in its own interests and foundation that does the same -- or worse, if the foundation will only represent projects that it's paid to represent?

Shuttleworth didn't name any names. He seems to be referring not just to the many open-source foundations -- The OpenStack Foundation, The Linux Foundation, The Apache Foundation, etc., -- but to the many companies now coming up with their own "kind of, sort of" open-source licenses, such as Confluent, MongoDB, and Redis.

Having looked at all these disputes bubbling up in the open-source world, Shuttleworth decided to change how Canonical delivers and supports its software stack. That's by, as Stephan Fabel, Canonical's director of product, put it, "Aggregating Linux, Kubernetes, Docker, OpenStack, KVM, Ceph, and SWIFT security update and support offerings into a single package [that] enables businesses to evolve from traditional infrastructure to private cloud and container operations without introducing any new cost."

This new offering is called Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure. This is a consolidated enterprise security, compliance, and support offering that covers the full range of open-source infrastructure capabilities for up to 10 years.

This is done, Shuttleworth said, by Canonical "integrating the very best open-source ideas, regardless of their origins. In the full spectrum of all the challenges facing companies today, there will be no single foundation that will have all the answers." 

Shuttleworth, never shy about needling the competition, added that this new plan stands in direct contrast to the complexity and cost of offerings from Red Hat and VMware, which require additional licenses per host or per VM for capabilities like OpenStack and Kubernetes.

In this new plan, if your in-house staff doesn't need much technical support, the Essential level of Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure will provide a stream of kernel live patches and security fixes for system services and libraries including Linux, OpenStack and Kubernetes, Ceph and SWIFT -- together with FIPS and a range of infrastructure management and operations capabilities such as Prometheus, Grafana, Telegraf, Graylog, Filebeat, Elastic Search, MaaS, and Canonical's Landscape systems management offering.

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If you need more help, the Standard and Advanced levels offer technical support for open infrastructure, the development of long-term fixes to specific defects, and legal assurance.

Of course, Canonical also still offers fully managed private cloud. But it's not just the private cloud. Canonical offers fully managed OpenStack, fully managed Kubernetes on bare metal, OpenStack, VMware, and public clouds including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and Google Cloud.

As for OpenStack itself, Shuttleworth concluded, "We may be a  mature project, but there's no need to have a mid-life crisis. We don't need to play around and go find something new and shiny to drive. OpenStack scales better, is more performant, is more secure, and easier to operate than its rivals."

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