Canonical Busts Out Metal-as-a-Service For Cloudy Days

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MaaS looks to bring cloud-like server management to IT teams

Canonical is hoping to bring cloud-like server management to IT teams with its Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS) product, announced yesterday.

The Ubuntu Linux sponsor wants users to hook MaaS up with Juju, the Canonical service orchestration tool, to manage hyperscale data centres where there are thousands of servers, potentially pooling them more effectively to carry out different tasks.

Good Juju

“Once you get to that number of servers, particularly when they’re small, you no longer care about them individually. Instead, they take on the same almost throw-away characteristics that you have with virtual instances in the cloud,”  Matthew Revell, MAAS product manager at Canonical, told TechWeekEurope.

“With MaaS, you can spin up a machine, check its hardware is good to go, deploy a service to it and then rip it down when you’re done, just like a cloud instance.”

Using Juju, IT could use MaaS to set up a private OpenStack cloud, or to deploy Hadoop for big data projects, Revell said. In the latter case, Juju would ask MAAS to provide it with the computing resource that it needs to run a Hadoop cluster.

“Juju works with charms, which are a description of everything that’s needed to set up the service that interests you, “ he explained. “So, for example, if you’re looking to deploy a Hadoop cluster you’d be able to deploy a Hadoop master with just a couple of lines in the terminal. That’s because the charm is basically a distillation of the knowledge and best practice of the community that wrote it and so the charm knows what’s necessary to get that service running. Basically, you don’t have to.

“You want to deploy a Hadoop slave? Again, just a line or two on the command line. You need to scale up? Another line along the lines of “juju add-unit datanode”.

MaaS is available for testing in Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2. The OS is scheduled for general availability on 26 April 2012.

Canonical has been doing plenty of interesting things elsewhere of late, in particular with Ubuntu. The company has been rolling out Ubuntu for smartphones recently, introducing a new version for Android in February.

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