Ubuntu 11.04 Tiptoes Into OpenStack

Ubuntu 11.04, codenamed the Natty Narwhal, will be a major release for the Linux distribution's cloud aspirations. Ubuntu 11.04 will be the first release that includes the OpenStack open source cloud platform, as well as the Eucalpytus platform, providing a new set of cloud deployment platform options for Linux developers. Ubuntu 11.04 server release adds new cloud platform, but it isn't abandoning Eucalyptus just yet.

"We want people to think of Ubunutu as a Linux platform that is cloud native," Steve George vice president, business development of Canonical told InternetNews.com.

Ubuntu has been pushing cloud since at least the Ubuntu 9.04 'Jaunty Jackalope' release in April of 2009. Ubuntu's cloud capabilities began with their Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) technology, which is based on the open source Eucalyptus project.

In the 11.04 release, George noted that Ubuntu has updated to the latest Euclapytus 2.02 release. George added that 11.04 also benefits from improvements in libvirt and the KVM hypervisor for scalability and flexibility.

"For this release, we've also added the OpenStack Cactus release," George said.

OpenStack is an open source cloud platform effort that was founded by Rackspace and NASA in 2010. The Cactus release came out last week, providing new image and extension capabilities. Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu Linux, officially joined the OpenStack effort in February. There is now also an ecosystem of commercial vendors that are offering commercial services and support for OpenStack.

Though Canonical is an active participant in OpenStack, it is not providing commercial services for it as part of the Ubuntu 11.04 release.

"It's now a technology preview, so we have Eucalyptus with UEC which is maintained and customers can buy services from us to support it," George said. "We've got OpenStack as our tech preview for developers and for people that are interested in the technology, so they can play with it."

George explained that the reason why OpenStack is considered a technology preview has to do with support. Full Ubuntu platform components are technologies for which Canonical provides maintenance and support.

"UEC which is our cloud product, uses the stack that was available from our Ubuntu 10.04 Long Term Support (LTS) release, " George said. "So if you're interested in cloud right now and you want maintenance from us then basically we have Eucalyptus, which is the supported and maintained technology."

When it comes to technology previews, George noted that Ubuntu will provide security updates, but they don't do customer engagements to support them. Though OpenStack is only a technology preview, George noted that there is customer interest in both Eucalyptus and OpenStack.

"From my perspective what Ubuntu seeks to do is to have the most interesting technologies available to developers and users," George said. "Then we want to bless a technology as being the maintained and supported platform."

One such example is how Ubuntu blessed the KVM hypervisor, even though there are other options, including Xen.

"I expect for the next Ubuntu LTS cycle, we will need to choose what the stable maintained cloud platform is going forward," George said.

Ubuntu 11.04 is currently available as a beta with the final release scheduled for April 28th.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

This article was originally published on Apr 22, 2011
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