Ubuntu Server 11.10 Could Rule The Cloud: Review
Canonical is grooming Ubuntu for the cloud, and the Oneiric Ocelot release will do well on Amazon EC2
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Next, I turned my new Orchestra server toward a pairing with a second new system deployment feature in Ubuntu Server, JuJu, a facility aimed at streamlining the process of deploying multi-component workloads. For example, a WordPress blogging instance is comprised of database and Web server components. JuJu enables administrators to store the deployment steps for particular components for fast, consistent reuse in recipes called Charms.
The process for deploying services with JuJu call to mind the procedures for using a platform as a service (PaaS). Deploying WordPress, for instance, involves deploying database and WordPress application components, and then adding a relation between them.
JuJu is hungry for servers
I set up JuJu environments for Amazon EC2 and for the Orchestra server I’d set up. The EC2 process is better-documented (and simpler overall, as Amazon handles the VM provisioning parts of the process), but after spending a few hours debugging my Orchestra-JuJu installation, I was able to deploy services on that foundation as well.
As it stands now, JuJu is a fairly server-hungry affair—a simple WordPress installation requires three servers: one for the MySQL database, another for the Web server and a third for controlling the JuJu environment. Work is underway to use JuJu alongside the Linux Container (LXC) functionality built into Ubuntu Server. LXC, which is similar to the Solaris Containers feature, provides a way to divvy up a single VM or physical machine among OS instances that are lighter-weight than a full VM.
OpenStack and Cloud Foundry
Also on the cloud computing track, I tested Ubuntu Server’s OpenStack private cloud functionality by installing a single-node OpenStack deployment in our lab. The install went smoothly, although not quite as smoothly as with my OpenStack tests with the purpose-built StackOps distribution earlier this year. I missed the StackOps configuration helper, particularly when setting up the networking for my private cloud.
In my search for OpenStack on Ubuntu Server documentation, I noticed references both to installing OpenStack via JuJu and via Orchestra. In addition to the fuller documentation I’d like to see in place before the Spring LTS release of Ubuntu Server, I hope to see a simpler OpenStack installation option made available. Ubuntu’s earlier Eucalyptus-based effort benefited from an install disc menu option for spinning up a new cloud—it’d be great to see a similar option for OpenStack.
The most mature element of the Ubuntu Server cloud-computing feature list involves the product’s suitability as a guest OS for cloud or virtual environments. For Amazon EC2 users, there’s a handy AMI locator for finding Ubuntu images in the version and regional zone one desires, and the cloud images available here work well within most virtualization platforms.
Ubuntu Server is also the reference OS for VMware’s Cloud Foundry project, and the client packages required for using Cloud Foundry are now available in the 11.10 repositories. The server packages for Cloud Foundry haven’t yet made their way into the release’s official repositories but are available in a Personal Package Archive (PPA) here.