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Ubuntu's Narwhal rides OpenStack cloud

Two clouds a crowd?

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It's official: the next Ubuntu will straddle clouds, with Natty Narwhal packing both OpenStack and current favorite Eucalyptus.

Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has confirmed that Ubuntu 11.04, due in April, will contain APIs that let people fluff their own private clouds built on OpenStack or Eucalyptus.

Shuttleworth said in an interview here that he's waiting to see how the pair shakes out from a competitive perspective. In the meantime, he sees OpenStack and Eucalyptus as important because they are helping to provide some de-facto standardization for cloud computing. Shuttleworth said Canonical, Ubuntu's chief commercial sponsor, supports de-facto or formal standards.

"We will have both OpenStack and Eucalyptus based cloud options in Ubuntu 11.04 in April," he said.

"The important thing is we are starting to get some standardization at the infrastructure level in cloud computing and both Eucalyptus and OpenStack are going to be central to that process."

It's not clear whether OpenStack will be officially supported by Canonical.

The Reg learned in October that OpenStack APIs were being added to the Linux distro via the Ubuntu repositories, by members of the Ubuntu community working on OpenStack. At that point it wasn't clear which version of Ubuntu would pack OpenStack.

Ubuntu's OpenStack committers had just added the PHP-based Nova cloud-computer framework and the Swift scalable, distributed object store.

These provide an alternative to Amazon's EC2 and S3 and Eucalyptus, the open-source architecture that implements the Amazon computer and storage model inside private data centers.

Now it's just a question of which version of OpenStack will be implemented in Ubuntu 11.04: Austin is the codename for the current release, but Bexar is due in early February, with plans for a new release every three months.

Until now, Ubuntu's cloud bet has been Eucalyptus because of its Amazon compatibility. But last year, Eucalyptus suffered a major set back when NASA decided the system wasn't scalable or open enough for its Nebula cloud. NASA built its own compute engine and fabric controller, which it open sourced under an Apache 2.0 license as part of OpenStack.

Dell is a member of the OpenStack community, and it has a close working relationship with Canonical that involves tuning Ubuntu for PCs.

This week, the two are due to announce that the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud will be available for sale on PowerEdge C2100 and C6100 servers in a package called the Dell Canonical UEC Solution. ®

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