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Ubuntu 13.04 delivers cloud computing enhancements

24 Apr 2013

Ubuntu developer Canonical has officially announced the latest release of its Linux platform, Ubuntu 13.04, which delivers enhancements for those using the operating system to build an OpenStack cloud.

Available for download from tomorrow, Ubuntu 13.04, codenamed Raring Ringtail, introduces several enhancements on the server side aimed at cloud computing, including integration of the latest OpenStack Grizzly update that was pushed out earlier this month. Other improvements include an overhaul of the Juju orchestration tool, integration with the Ceph open-source storage technology, and an update of the Floodlight OpenFlow controller for software defined networking.

Mark Baker, server product manager at Canonical, told V3 many of the changes introduced in 13.04 are laying the foundations for the next long term support (LTS) release version of Ubuntu, for which Canonical guarantees maintenance and security updates for a period of five years.

"People deploying OpenStack cloud are doing so primarily on the LTS releases, so this release and [the upcoming] 13.10 are really the proving ground to prepare for 14.04 LTS, set for April 2014," Baker said, although he added that the latest version is a stable build ready for production use.

To this end, Canonical is looking to align Ubuntu's cloud support around three main priority areas for datacentre users, scale-out storage solutions, networking and compute technology, according to Baker.

For the compute part, Ubuntu integrates OpenStack Grizzly with 13.04 and makes greater use of Juju to enable administrators to deploy OpenStack in a highly available way. This means removing single points of failure, setting up failover for the database components, and adding other redundancy measures. Juju itself also now has a richer GUI that helps administrators visualise the services they are deploying and the relationships between them, Baker said.

For storage, Ubuntu 13.04 also now integrates the Ceph open-source distributed storage system to provide a scalable block, object and Posix-compliant file system.

"We've seen interest from our users in operating that as part of OpenStack for object and block storage," Baker said, explaining that it offers an alternative to OpenStack's own Swift and Cinder modules but enables both block and object storage on the same platform.

Meanwhile, Ubuntu 13.04 also includes an updated version of the open-source Floodlight OpenFlow controller, designed to control both physical and virtual network switches that support the OpenFlow protocol.

"We've been including Floodlight on Ubuntu for a little while, but it's gone through a bit of an update that is a reasonable step up in terms of functionality and features," said Baker.

This provides OpenStack users with an open-source alternative to the Nicira NVP technology, which Canonical and VMware recently enabled support for in OpenStack, Baker added.

"This is driven by the desire, as we head towards 14.04 to have more robust open-source options available for people. While Nicira is great technology, it is proprietary, and you have to pay VMware's prices to use it," he said.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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