Shuttleworth: Cloud Jobs Need Migration Help

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Mark Shuttleworth says the industry needs portable workloads. He describes Canonical’s solution to TechWeekEurope

Enterprises are increasingly buying into the Cloud, but they need help in transferring their cloudy workloads between different providers and internal clouds.

Canonical – which manages the Ubuntu Linux distribution – has run into this issue itself, as Ubuntu is a giant on public clouds. After solving the issues for its own internal use, it is now releasing for beta testing a cloud proxy product, dubbed AWSOME (“Any Web Service Over Me”) that will make cloud workloads more portable, by providing APIs for OpenStack, that are also common to Amazon’s EC2 and Amazon Web Services (AWS) public clouds.

Workload Migration

Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth explained the idea to Techweek Europe: the AWSOME product is intended to simplify the transition of workloads between public clouds running on AWS and private clouds running on OpenStack.

This is useful because many businesses have already invested in an AWS public cloud, but sometimes they want to move services to a private cloud based on OpenStack. This allows them, for instance, to make better use of their own data centre resources or reduce the cost of running a public cloud.

Shuttleworth told us that AWSOME was first developed because of Canonical’s own internal requirements to deploy across both AWS and OpenStack. Butbefore this, he outlined why a bridging tool like this was needed.

“It is an exciting time for Ubuntu and enterprises and the Cloud,” said Shuttleworth. “This is the latest in a series of announcements in response to the level of enterprise cloud adoption we are seeing and we wanted to make a special announcement about it.”

“Ubuntu is regarded by many as the world’s favourite Linux distribution and a consequence of that is it is being adopted very quickly in technology areas. Indeed it is increasingly the norm rather than exception,” said Shuttleworth, pointing out that Ubuntu is the number one platform in the cloud.

“Talk to Amazon, Rackpsace etc, and they will tell you Ubuntu is absolutely the platform they must have, and we have a strong proponent of people building their own cloud using Ubuntu,” said Shuttleworth.

OpenStack Popularity

“However OpenStack is also flourishing and is acting as the natural centre of gravity at the moment, although other Linux platforms will show up,” he said. “OpenStack’s positioning is perfect and it has credible leadership. However OpenStack also needs to be humble and not believe they have already won, as it would be easy for them to lose track of delivering on time and ensuring good quality. But I think they will be fine.”

One of Canonical’s key issues on the public cloud, is the ability to move workloads around using standard tools and APIs, Shuttleworth told us.

“That is the context as to why AWSOME happened,” explained Shuttleworth. “We worked with  key architects at OpenStack to allow for open APIs.”

“We are working with lots of cloud Ubuntu stacks, and we quietly prototyped this idea, and now want to take it to awider audience and publish it as open source and allow people to kick the tyres on it,” said Shuttleworth.

“We (Canonical) are very heavy users of AWS itself, in fact we are the number one user in the UK, and we are also heavy users of OpenStack – we are right are the intersection of that,” said Shuttleworth. “We think the code is of interest to a broader audience, and AWSOME will help OpenStack stay focused on their APIs, but it also recognises the need for people who want to work with private or public clouds.”

Cloud Workloads

But are we seeing a real enterprise need at the moment to shift cloud workloads between private and public clouds?

“There are lots of dynamics going on at the moment, as companies still want to do things inhouse, but they also want to spin up an OpenStack Cloud to offer that to their employees. Some are moving workloads inhouse for compliance reasons,” said Shuttleworth.

“People want to do stuff on private clouds, but occasionally they want to burst out to public cloud,” said Shuttleworth. “AWSOME is being offered as part of Ubuntu 12.04.”

What about enterprise adoption of the cloud? Are they still wary or will they adopt an increasingly hybrid approach with a combination of a Cloud and ‘on metal’ (i.e. internal servers) strategy?

Enterprise cloud adoption is a hot topic at the moment,” admitted Shuttleworth. “I say it is all about going hyper scale. Inside the data centre it has often been about managing machines as a single machine (that is the database server, the email server etc). However it gets to a point where ‘they are all just machines’.”

“We are seeing people doing Hadoop – and scale out, buying mostly cost efficient setups. Ubuntu is good at that, as it is a lean install and has a flexible licence. So it is possible to deploy Ubuntu very fast, without even needing to be there, automated way.”

“Cloud enterprise workloads are still small, but this will grow as the trend is going that way,” stated Shuttleworth. “The hybrid approach is the interim and AWSOME is the bridging point here. Often tools are required to co-ordinate workloads, but we have benefited Ubuntu with a wonderful set of tools to deploy workloads on either the cloud or on metal.”

AWSOME is an installation option within Ubuntu Server 12.04 LTS. More details are available here.

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