Ubuntu cloud-computing components released

Ubuntu users can create their own Amazon-compatible clouds, as Canonical calls for open standards
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor

Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, on Thursday announced two major components of its cloud-computing strategy.

With the launch of version 9.04, Jaunty Jackalope, Ubuntu Server Edition is available on Amazon EC2, while Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud is an EC2-compatible system that can create a cloud on a company's own network.

"We can see the benefits of the cloud, and the risks," Simon Wardley, software services manager for Canonical, told ZDNet UK. "The risks are transitional — do I trust the vendor? Are there second-sourcing options? What's the learning curve? So with Ubuntu, users can build their private infrastructures and go public when they're ready."

The Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud system is based on Ubuntu Server Edition 9.04 and Eucalyptus, a system with an EC2-compatible API, elastic block storage (EBS) equivalent and an S3 compatible storage manager. With it, the company said, users can build their own private clouds entirely from open-source components.

"We want to be sure our customers can navigate safely into the cloud", Wardley said, "and we see this working according to three rules. Rule one is to build on their own infrastructure. Rule two is moving between their infrastructure and an external provider. Rule three is switching between providers".

Ubuntu's emphasis is on standards, said Wardley, and the best candidate for an open cloud standard to date was Amazon's EC2 "by a mile. There's an open-source implementation in Eucalyptus. The standard has to be open, or the entire market becomes dependent on one vendor's direction, and users are asking for second sourcing options".

Although Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud is compatible with Amazon's EC2, deployments onto a private cloud will not yet move seamlessly onto Amazon's own public cloud. "This is a stepping stone, a starting point towards portability," Wardley said. "There's a lot of work, and this is a journey."

Wardley added that in the near future, Canonical will add policies and intracloud portability to Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud.

"If you have a large cloud and usage is low, you can consolidate your running virtual machines onto a few physical machines, and turn the rest off," said Wardley. "We have a perfectly functional system now, but expect a lot more in Karmic Koala, version 9.10."

In the longer term, Wardley said, Canonical wanted to see a marketplace evolve among cloud providers. "We would love to see Amazon to see take EC2 towards standardisation. It's in the interests of entire industry. There are too many variants, EC2 is the de facto standardisation, and it's essential that we have a standard."

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