About 15 months ago, I published a piece of Burton Group research on the question of Linux Operating System upgrades – are the newer versions worth the upgrade pain. In that paper, I made one small comment about Canonical - more commonly known as Ubuntu:
“The joker in the deck is Ubuntu. Recently coming out of nowhere and attacking first from the desktop space,
Ubuntu has done a great job of marketing and getting its products in the hands of the right people to grow via
Canonical just released its Ubuntu server OS version 9.04 yesterday. Some interesting background of Ubuntu in the market:
-Canonical started at the desktop – using grassroots marketing and building a more simple-to-use Linux. Canonical focused solely on the end user Linux desktop from the ease-of-use perspective compared to other Linux desktops that focused on developers and feature rich engineering workstations. Ubuntu has gained unprecedented popularity in such a short time as a Linux desktop.
-Canonical doesn’t charge a subscription for any of their offerings. They only charge for support, if you decide you need it. Granted, this model is like CentOS with the difference being the simplification and focus of the product.
-Canonical Ubuntu Server has been gaining on subscription free distributions like CentOS for edge non-critical services because of the ease of use focus and familiarity of the Ubuntu desktop in the market.
This background aside, the most recent Ubuntu server release is termed a “Cloud” release. Why? Because Ubuntu has included in their distribution the Eucalyptus open source Cloud frame work that exposes the same Cloud computing API as Amazon’s EC2, including the Amazon elastic block storage (EBS) API. Not only is the cloud framework included, but the simplified tools needed to start setting up an internal cloud for testing and trial – for free. The opensource community (Eucalyptus project) created its cloud API based on Amazon's because they saw Amazon's as the current defacto standard cloud interface.
I think Canonical is onto something here. Cloud computing has been the number one topic of interest in the IT community and technology sector in general for the past 6 months or more. Most companies I have talked with like the idea of cloud, but want it controlled within the walls of their data center for security reasons. Now, they can start playing with these ideas with Ubuntu server for free. I wouldn’t recommend putting production workloads on Ubuntu's cloud yet (more on that in an upcoming blog), but what a great tool to trial and experiment with an internal cloud, especially as you explore what organizational and process changes an internal cloud model may demand of your business.
[Posted by: Richard Jones]