Feeds

Ubuntu gets pre-Koala cloud love

The sky is open

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

As Mark Shuttleworth preps a new "Karmic Koala" Ubuntu distro suited to life with its head in the Amazon clouds, Thorsten von Eicken has lent a helping hand.

Von Eicken is the CTO and co-founder of RightScale, a Santa Barbara, California outfit offering what it calls "a fully automated cloud-management platform." In other words, it helps you deploy and run your server apps on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and other so-called infrastructure clouds from companies such as Flexiscale and GoGrid.

In theory, these clouds give you instant access to a virtually infinite array of compute power, letting you grab more cycles, more storage, and more bandwidth whenever you like. But it's not as easy as it sounds, and RightScale strives to grease the wheels.

"We're out there to provide a way of leveraging those infrastructure-in-the-cloud offerings coming from Amazon and now others, so that we offer a degree of portability and interoperability and an entire cloud-aware platform that lets companies have full visibility into what they're running," RightScale CEO Michael Crandell tells us.

The company offers pre-built "templates" for common server applications - a Ruby on Rails website, say, or a video-encoding engine - and these are specifically designed for cloud-sitting. The idea is that you use these templates to build applications on your own server, and then hoist them onto Amazon, Flexiscale, or GoGrid. And if all goes according to plan, these templates should move easily between clouds - from Amazon to Flexiscale, say, and back again.

Originally, these templates were built for CentOS - otherwise known as Red Hat Enterprise. But as of last week, the company is also offering templates for Ubuntu - and support resources too.

"When we started, CentOS was the most established Linux-standard operating system. But all along we've seen more and more users trying to use RightScale with Ubuntu, and though we're done out best not to turn them away, we've had limited resources," says von Eicken, who worked alongside Amazon Web Services father figure Werner Vogels while doing distributed-systems research at Cornell University in the mid-1990s. "Now, we're dedicating resources to make it seamless to get your apps to the cloud when you're using Ubuntu."

This Ubuntu demand, he says, is coming mostly from startups and Web 2.0-type companies as opposed to enterprises. At the moment, the new Ubuntu templates run only on Amazon Web Services, but RightScale will likely tweak for other clouds as time goes on.

Meanwhile, Mark Shuttleworth and his Ubuntu minions are tweaking the open-source OS to include standard Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) that can be lobbed onto Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). "Ubuntu aims to keep free software at the forefront of cloud computing by embracing the APIs of Amazon EC2 and making it easy for anybody to set up their own cloud using entirely open tools," the spaceman said in a recent blog post.

"We're currently in beta with official Ubuntu base AMIs for use on Amazon EC2. During the Karmic cycle we want to make it easy to deploy applications into the cloud, with ready-to-run appliances or by quickly assembling a custom image."

Ubuntu 9.10 - dubbed Karmic Koala because "a good Koala knows how to see the wood for the trees, even when her head is in the clouds" - will also embrace Eucalyptus, a set of open-source tools that allow organizations to build their own Amazon-like clouds.

RightScale has already tapped into Eucalyptus, and after Shuttleworth's announcement von Eicken and company couldn't help but join the Ubuntu fun. "Canonical stepping forward with its cloud support is extremely important to us," he tells us. "The last thing we want is to build all these software stacks then find out that there's some sort of kernel issue we can't fix."

Some have argued that Shuttleworth is somehow betraying his open-source mission by hooking his baby to a "closed" Amazon cloud. You see, Amazon has yet to publish its Web Services API, and in a rather passive way it has worked to keep users from moving their apps from one cloud to another. But von Eicken sees no reason why this should be a threat to open source.

"I, of course, hope that Canonical will indeed monetize their cloud efforts by offering paid support services in the cloud environment," he writes in recent blog post.

"I want them to stay around to continue supporting the Ubuntu project! But I see a cloud support offering as being no different than offering paid support services in the data center environment, which they do today. Does anyone complain that Canonical offers support on Dell servers because the servers are not free? What’s different in the cloud? We pay Amazon to “lease” the servers and they run them to boot. How different is that with respect to Ubuntu or Canonical? Go figure." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
BOFH: WHERE did this 'fax-enabled' printer UPGRADE come from?
Don't worry about that cable, it's part of the config
Azure TITSUP caused by INFINITE LOOP
Fat fingered geo-block kept Aussies in the dark
You think the CLOUD's insecure? It's BETTER than UK.GOV's DATA CENTRES
We don't even know where some of them ARE – Maude
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
Yahoo! blames! MONSTER! email! OUTAGE! on! CUT! CABLE! bungle!
Weekend woe for BT as telco struggles to restore service
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.