Shuttleworth choose Web servers for his benchmark because “Web services are a public affair.” Nevertheless, Shuttleworth claims that “the trend is even starker if you look at what we know of new-style services, like clouds and big data.”
Ubuntu images are by far the most popular operating system images on the Amazon cloud.
Now Cloud Market is measuring Amazon Machine Image (AMI), a pre-configured operating system and virtual application software which is used to create a virtual machine, not the number of running systems. As Shuttleworth told me during our e-mail discussion of Cloud Market's data “I would characterize it as an easily gamed measure of innovation (i.e. a measure that will become less useful if lots of people start talking about it :-) rather than a measure of adoption. It's a measure of how many people have taken the OS and done their own snapshot with their own customizations, not a measure of how many of each of those images is running.” Since, however, no one to my knowledge has been looking at Cloud Market's data in this way it strikes me as still showing serious business server interest in Ubuntu.
So why are people looking at Ubuntu for servers? In his blog posting Shuttleworth wrote, “The key driver of this has been that we added quality as a top-level goal across the teams that build Ubuntu – both Canonical’s and the community’s. We also have retained the focus on keeping the up-to-date tools available on Ubuntu for developers, and on delivering a great experience in the cloud, where computing is headed.”
Sure, “The headlines for Ubuntu have all been about the desktop and consumer-focused design efforts, with the introduction of Unity and the expansion of our goals to span the phone, the tablet, the TV as well as the PC. But underpinning those goals has been a raising of the quality game.”
Looking ahead, Shuttleworth wrote, “12.04 LTS [Long Term Support] is a coming of age release for Ubuntu in the data centre as much as its the first LTS to sport the interface which was designed to span the full range of personal computing needs. At the same time he notes that “OpenStack’s [the popular open-source cloud platform) Essex release is lined up to be a perfect fit for 12.04 LTS. That is not a coincidence, it’s a value to which both projects are committed. Upstream projects that care about their user’s and care about being adopted quickly, want an effective conduit of their goodness straight to users. By adopting the 6-month / 2-year cadence of step and LTS releases, and aligning those with Ubuntu’s release cycle, OpenStack ensures that a very large audience of system administrators, developers and enterprise decision makers can plan for their OpenStack deployment, and know they will have a robust and very widely deployed LTS platform together with a very widely supported release of OpenStack.”
Shuttleworth concluded, “Every dependency that Essex needs is exactly provided in 12.04 LTS, the way that all of the major public clouds based on OpenStack are using it. By adopting a common message on releases, we make both OpenStack and Ubuntu stronger, and do so in a way which is entirely transparent and accessible to other distributions.”
Still, Canonical's flagship Linux is clearly adopted by more and more businesses. I can well believe that the race for being the number one Linux server in the 2010s might have Canonical and Ubuntu nipping at Red Hat's heels rather than SUSE or Oracle.