Ubuntu syncs up with OpenStack

The next version of Ubuntu, Saucy Salamander, is more than just a great Linux desktop, it will also put Ubuntu into lockstep with the latest OpenStack cloud, Havana.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

On October 17th, Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company, will release Ubuntu 13.10, Saucy Salamander. Most people will be interested in the desktop version of Ubuntu 13.10, but more people may actually end up using this latest Ubuntu distribution on the cloud than they will on the desktop.

You may know Ubuntu from the desktop, but Ubuntu is strongest in the clouds.

That's because at the same time that Canonical makes its semi-annual desktop play, and starting its attempt to grab some of the mobile market with Ubuntu Touch, it will also be released with the latest version of the OpenStack Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud, Havana.

"Ubuntu 13.10 delivers the latest and best version of OpenStack, and is the fastest, most flexible platform for scale-out computing," said Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu's founder and Canonical's VP Products in a statement. "Ubuntu is typically used in very large scale deployments. In this release we’ve tuned the cloud deployment experience for very small clusters as well, to support dev-and-test environments." This 13.10 release makes it possible to deploy a full OpenStack cloud on only 5 servers and offers a sophisticated Landscape dashboard for the management of Ubuntu OpenStack clouds no matter their size.

According to the Canonical, enterprise management of OpenStack clouds and the workloads deployed on them has been a focus for Canonical in the latest development cycle. "With Landscape, we simplify the lives of enterprise compliance and administration teams, with a full suite of compliance, performance monitoring and security update tools that work on all cloud and physical environments. Now we’ve added real-time dashboards for your OpenStack cloud, too," said Federico Lucifredi, the Ubuntu Advantage Product Manager, in a statement.

In addition to closely coordinating with OpenStack and getting Landscape to work hand-in-glove with OpenStack, Ubuntu has been working on improving its Juju DevOps tool. With Juju, a rival to DevOps tools such as Chef and Puppet, cloud administrators can easily design, deploy, manage and scale workloads securely. With Ubuntu 13.10, Juju can quickly deploy an entire software stack or service as a "bundle" directly from the easy-to-use, Juju Web-based GUI.

In addition, Juju can also be used to manage LXC containers, a lightweight virtualization system. LXC allows multiple services to run on the same physical or virtual machine. This gives sysadmins the option of increasing the density of their VMs, which in turn reduces the total number of machines required to run a service, and thus lowering the overall cost.

Canonical also states that their plans to get Ubuntu working with both OpenStack and VMware vSphere have come to fruiition. "The ability to deploy Ubuntu OpenStack alongside ESXi with orchestration that spans both properties is extremely valuable, bringing OpenStack right to the centre of common enterprise virtualization practice," said Shuttleworth.

The company also makes the eye-opening claim that its new installer using LXC can enable very rapid provisioning of thousands of nodes, typically five times faster than the best traditional Linux installation process. Ubuntu is uniquely suited to rapid provisioning and re-provisioning in large-scale data centers. The Ubuntu LXC update in 13.10 provides blindingly fast (less than one second) and efficient cloning of containers for faster scaling of containerized services, unique to Ubuntu.

Havana will also be made available to customers on Ubuntu 12.04 Long Term Support (LTS) thanks to Canonical's 12.04 Cloud Archive. With this, LTS users can still use the latest Ubuntu OpenStack release, tools and features while continuing to use LTS's stability and maintenance commitment.

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