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'Sons of Solaris' Joyent welcome Ubuntu into their cloud

My enemy's enemy is my friend, explains engineering chief

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Sun refugee camp and cloud operator Joyent has partnered with Canonical to bring tailored Ubuntu images into its technically sophisticated cloud.

The deal was announced on Thursday and means that developers who want to run Ubuntu on Joyent's advanced SmartOS-based infrastructure can now do with greater confidence in getting regular updates from Canonical, and performance guarantees.

By joining Canonical's "Certified Public Cloud Programme", Joyent will be guaranteed to get "the latest Ubuntu features, security and compliance accreditations" from Canonical, exhaustive testing by Canonical of the Ubuntu image on Joyent's cloud platform, access to the Ubuntu Cloud Suite including Juju orchestration, and Joyent-hosted archive mirrors that are monitored constantly by Canonical to push out urgent updates.

The partnership "gives people a vector for a first class Ubuntu experience in the Joyent cloud," explains Joyent's head of engineering (and Dtrace creator) Bryan Cantrill. "Canonical and Joyent are similar in a bunch of ways – we're both taking on established giants. Joyent is taking on AWS [and] Canonical is taking on Red Hat."

Joyent is chiefly known for its technically innovative services, such as its ZFS-based object store and compute-storage cocktail "Manta", its "Content Delivery Cloud" which pairs Joyent DCs with Riverbed virtual appliances for a cut-price Akamai competitor, its eCommerce Package, and more.

These specific products are part of an initiative by the company to identify areas where cloud big kahuna Amazon is weak and build a product base there, rather than compete with it head-on in the cut-throat markets for main compute and storage.

"I don't want to be the Ryanair of cloud computing," he says. "Amazon is fundamentally a retailer and we are fundamentally a systems company. We believe in innovating deeper in the stack – you're never going to see a Manta come out of Amazon."

As part of this "systems" focus, the company will also work with Joyent to deploy a Node.js charm on its cloud. Charms are used by Canonical's "Juju" orchestration technology, which helps to configure, deploy, and manage Ubuntu-based infrastructure.

"We believe in Canonical and Ubuntu as an important development platform for certain classes of applications," Cantrill says. "I think that if you look at JuJu you can view that as an intent from them to get upstack from the respect of the developer experience."

The Joyent partnership follows Canonical's embrace of the "Cloud Foundry" platform-as-a-service in November, as the company tries to steal a lead on Red Hat in the world of distributed systems. ®

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