second beta is bringing a couple of cloud-related features that bear watching. Codenamed Oneiric Ocelot, the next release of Ubuntu Server will include Orchestra, Juju cloud provisioning the latest stable release of OpenStack, and a return of Xen.Ubuntu 11.10 is approaching, and the
Juju, formerly known as Ensemble, is sort of a package manager for the cloud. Robbie Williamson, an engineering manager for Canonical, says that Juju brings "a dpkg-like tool for solving real-world deployment problems for the DevOps community."
Williamson says that Juju takes a higher-level approach than dpkg or APT, the traditional package managers for Debian-based Linux distributions like Ubuntu. Where a package might install software like MySQL, a Juju charm will handle deploying complex services like OpenStack and Hadoop. "SysAdmins and DevOps personnel... don't want to waste time learning to deploy these services, they need them deployed fast, so they can use them for whatever solution or task their boss or CIO asked them to do."
For example, say you've installed WordPress using Juju. (The docs still say Ensemble, but ignore that.) It's a few simple commands to add another "unit" to scale up if the blog gets really popular. Assuming someone has written the proper charms, it should be trivial from the admin perspective to add another instance to help handle the load.
Return of Xen
Williamson says that Xen is coming back thanks to its inclusion with mainstream Linux kernel. With the addition of Xen to the kernel, "the support burden dramatically decreased for us." In addition, Ubuntu has heavy support for OpenStack, and Canonical wants to support "as many OpenStack supported virtualization technologies as we can." However, Williamson says that Canonical is still pushing KVM as the default technology.
Though not mentioned specifically, OpenStack Diablo will be included in 11.10 as well. A keen observer might notice that OpenStack's new six-month release cycle is closely synced with Ubuntu's six-month release cycle. And that OpenStack is using Canonical's Launchpad for its planning and development. That's no coincidence. Says Williamson, "right now, OpenStack locks down and releases just in time for us to incorporate the release into our in-development release. To be honest, the only way we are even able to introduce it as late as we do is because of our close ties to their release team, trust and familiarity with their process, and the fact that we closely track and sync to their pre-release milestones."
Finally, also of interest to those working with Ubuntu as a cloud platform, the second beta brings Orchestra. This is a collection of free software services for "provisioning, deploying, hosting, managing and orchestrating data center infrastructure services." This includes software like the Fedora Project's Cobbler. Cobbler glues together automated network installs and updates, so system admins can easily set up PXE boots, reinstalls and virtual images in one place.
With all this coming in 11.10, Ubuntu will be well poised for cloud environments with its next Long Term Support (LTS) release. The next LTS (12.04) is due to follow the 11.10 release in April, 2012. The Oneiric release is scheduled for October 13th.