October 13, 2011

2 Min Read
Ubuntu 11.10: A Linux Option for Cloud Services Providers?

By samdizzy

Canonical’s Ubuntu 11.10 debuted today. Best-known as a desktop Linux distribution, Ubuntu 11.10 also has server and cloud aspirations. Indeed, the Ubuntu Cloud Infrastructure effort now leverages OpenStack, LXC, Juju and multiple virtualization technologies. But will cloud services providers (CSPs) and channel partners embrace Ubuntu 11.10 for their public and private cloud efforts? Before you answer that question don’t forget that rival Linux distributions such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux, SUSE and CloudLinux are working overtime on their own cloud initiatives.

Let’s start with Canonical’s Ubuntu 11.10 efforts. According to Canonical:

“Ubuntu Cloud Infrastructure now includes OpenStack as the core infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) element of Ubuntu Cloud. Canonical’s investment in lightweight container technology LXC alongside the well-known KVM and Xen virtualisation technologies, has resulted in a tightly integrated cloud infrastructure solution that works across all hardware platforms. That means any business can deploy Ubuntu Cloud Infrastructure on their preferred server platform today.”

Read between the lines and the Ubuntu cloud strategy has evolved. Canonical shifted its open source cloud strategy from Eucalyptus to OpenStack earlier this year, a potential signal that OpenStack seemed to be a safer bet in the cloud. (Though Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos still sounds upbeat about his platform’s growth.)

Meanwhile, LXC is short for Linux Containers. LXC is an operating system-level virtualization method. It allows cloud services providers to run multiple isolated Linux systems on a single control host, notes Wikipedia.

Ubuntu 11.10 also embraces KVM (kernel-based virtual machine), the open source virtualization standard that Red Hat is also building into Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Canonical is hedging is virtualization bets a bit by also supporting Xen.

Also, keep an eye on Juju. Canonical claims Juju technology will simplify Ubuntu deployment “across multiple cloud providers and farms of physical servers running cloud-style workloads such as Hadoop.

Reality Check

The big question: Is there room for Canonical and Ubuntu 11.10 to complete as a cloud services platform? The answer is a qualified yes. On the one hand, sources say Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distribution running within the Rackspace Cloud. But on the other hand, it’s always difficult to determine how many end-customers and service providers actually pay for Ubuntu.

Also of note: Red Hat continues to accelerate its own cloud strategy, and SUSE is describing its cloud strategy during BrainShare this week in Salt Lake City, Utah. There’s even a CloudLinux upstart that’s been working closely with some service providers in recent months.

Translation: Ubuntu 11.10 arrives with a boatload of cloud technologies, but Canonical faces plenty of competition in the cloud platform market.

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