Ubuntu Linux and OpenStack cloud come to IBM servers

IBM partners with Canonical to bring not only Linux, but the OpenStack cloud and Juju-assembled programs as well, to big-iron servers.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

AUSTIN, TX -- Last year, IBM introduced LinuxONE, a new pair of IBM mainframes along with Linux and open-source software and services. These new systems are the LinuxONE Emperor, which built on the IBM z13 mainframe and its little brother, Rockhopper. LinuxONE is the heart of IBM's hybrid cloud efforts. At the OpenStack Summit, Angel Diaz, VP of IBM Cloud Architecture & Technology, said LinuxONE with Ubuntu and OpenStack can deliver the "speed and flexibility that businesses need to make the Benjamins money."

Ubuntu Juju Charms

Canonical's Juju charms on Ubuntu make it easy to set up complex server applications. When you run it on a powerhouse LinuxONE mainframe running OpenStack, the combination makes it easy to create powerful cloud applications.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and Ubuntu, added that "Ubuntu is all about enabling users, such as Netflix, to create work easily without friction. On LinuxONE, you can just use Ubuntu without needing to know anything about the mainframe architecture."

It's more than just technology. Shuttleworth continued, "The economic story is quite elegant. On-demand computing used to come with friction. We got rid of the friction by charging a flat price for Ubuntu on the LinuxONE. There is a zero cost to running Ubuntu VMs or Logical Partition (LPARs) on the LinuxONE mainframe. LinuxONE and Ubuntu are incredible from a I/O point of view."

"Ordinary users," Shuttleworth continued, "can access all this power via OpenStack. You target the mainframe just as if it were another cloud."

An easy way to do this is running applications off the platform. Kershaw Mehta, IBM's Chief Engineer OpenStack Solutions & PaaS, along with Shuttleworth, showed how easy it is to create an application on LinuxONE with Ubuntu and OpenStack using Ubuntu Juju charms.

Juju is Ubuntu's DevOps tool program. Charms, according to Jorge Castro, Canonical's resident charm expert, are "sharable, reusable, and repeatable expressions of DevOps best practices. You can use them unmodified, or easily change and connect them to fit your needs. Deploying a charm is like installing a package on Ubuntu. Ask for it and it's there; remove it and it's gone." In short, Castro added, "Charms are like Lego blocks."

"Juju charms," Shuttleworth added, "can be used to create applications on any hardware platform. With Juju on LinuxONE you can set up a reusable model that contains all the microservices you need without needing to put them together by hand."

This makes it very easy to get complex applications up and running. Since LinuxONE can handle thousands of virtual machines and deliver millions of containers, the combination of Ubuntu, Juju, and OpenStack make it ideal for quickly deploying heavy-duty workloads.

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