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Shuttleworth: standards and open source against 'gross' cloud lock-in

Jaunty Jackalope "fits" with Amazon

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Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has advocated open-source and industry standards as a way to prevent vendor lock-in in the nebulous cloud computing market.

Shuttleworth said portability is "key" to helping avoid what he called "really gross lock-in issues".

Shuttleworth also deflated some of the cloud hype, saying the phrase "cloud" is being bandied about to cover different meanings. He noted we're years away from where the technology and the vision will have been matured or realized.

Canonical's chief executive was speaking just as Ubuntu Linux made its first play to become a viable cloud server operating system, with the beta release of Jaunty Jackalope.

Ubuntu Server Edition 9.04 will let you run Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) and see Ubuntu available on Amazon's EC2. It also adds support for the Eucalyptus open-source framework, built using Java, to implement your own hosted elastic computing cluster.

Shuttleworth called EC2 and Eucalyptus "a good fit". The work on Eucalyptus followed on from work done with Sun Microsystems to make Java run properly on Ubuntu.

The decision to pick EC2 and Eucalyptus, though, point to the relativity of what is meant by cloud and the diversity of technologies and potential providers out there.

"We picked those two [Amazon and Eucalyptus] as an anchor point for our cloud strategy," Shuttleworth said during an interview with Lombardi Software's Barton George.

He called Amazon something everyone agrees is a cloud service, but the term cloud computing is "bandied about to cover such a diversity of services and capacities and approaches".

He noted we're years away from reaching a final definition of cloud.

Part of that's tied up in the standards that'll be used to build these clouds. According to Shuttleworth, development and implementation of standards in open-source are the best way to prevent application and data lock-in. He drew the parallel with HTTP.

He noted, though, that its too early to tell what standards will evolve and succeed, or how they'll be implemented. "That'll happen on the web, but at this stage it's too early to see."

His comments come as attention focuses on how data and application portability in clouds from Microsoft, Salesforce and Amazon - Azure Services Platform, Force.com and Web Services respectively - which prescribe the way applications are built or stored. ®

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