Canonical has announced a new version of the Ubuntu operating system designed to bring a united front to the Internet of Things (IoT), after a preview alpha was trialed late last year.
The super-stripped down, lightweight Snappy Ubuntu Core is designed to allow developers to create IoT applications quickly and easily and release them securely across the network.
This means that many devices with firmware that would have been unpatched after vulnerabilities such as Heartbleed can now be updated quickly, easily and silently.
Apps are at the heart of the infrastructure, with app store functionality able to offer off-the-peg firmware, applications and runtime libraries to help facilitate common standards across the IoT.
“We found that the IoT required a way of installing apps similar to the way you do on your phone,” Maarten Ectors, Ubuntu VP for the IoT, told The INQUIRER.
“Developers can have app stores for things that don’t have app stores today. That could be your vacuum cleaner, it could be your robot, it could be a drone.”
The company hopes that the future of robots will be a large part of the success of Snappy, and is working closely with a range of start-ups and Kickstarter projects to bring home automation and intelligent robotics to life.
“As people add more items and add complexity to their home networks, they want stuff to just work and to keep working, no matter what vulnerabilities we discover in the huge mountain of open source software that is powering all of it,” added Mark Williams, founder and guvnor of Ubuntu.
“Many of these items that you’ll be buying will be Ubuntu anyway, but Snappy will allow them to be fully robust, fully automated and fully secure.”
Ubuntu Core requires a tiny footprint. It can work with as little as 600MHz of processing power and 128MB of RAM, with suitable ARM processor baseboards starting at $35 retail.
Also x86 compatible, this flexibility means that the overall product could see IoT products being mass produced for matters of pennies.
Last year Broadcom offered a similar device called the Wiced Sense, a $20 kit aimed at helping to design IoT prototypes.
The first Snappy Ubuntu Core products are expected to be announced in the second quarter. Expect to see a lot of them on Christmas lists for 2015.
Ubuntu Snappy in cooperation with Microsoft Azure on Tuesday, the alpha preview of a minimalist Ubuntu Core virtual machine implementation for cloud deployments of Linux applications software running in Docker containers.
Canonical said: “Today we’re announcing ‘snappy’ Ubuntu Core, a new rendition of Ubuntu for the cloud with transactional updates.
“The snappy approach is faster, more reliable, and lets us provide stronger security guarantees for apps and users – that’s why we call them ‘snappy’ applications.”
Ubuntu Snappy is the Ubuntu Core Linux operating system along with atomic image updating for the operating system and applications software running in Docker containers.
“Ubuntu Core provides transactional updates with rigorous application isolation,” said Canonical and Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth.
“This is the smallest, safest platform for Docker deployment ever, and with snappy packages, it’s completely extensible to all forms of container or service. We’re excited to unleash a new wave of developer innovation with snappy Ubuntu!”
Canonical explained that Snappy apps and Ubuntu Core can be upgraded atomically and rolled back if needed, which it described as a “bulletproof” approach to systems management that is ideal for container deployments.
“It’s called ‘transactional’ or ‘image-based’ systems management, and we’re delighted to make it available on every Ubuntu certified cloud,” the firm said.
Microsoft corporate VP Bob Kelly added: “Microsoft Azure provides an alpha preview trial hosting environment based on the Docker container framework. For Canonical, business partners are where you find them, we reckon.
“Microsoft loves Linux, and we’re excited to be the first cloud provider to offer a new rendition of one of the most popular Linux platforms in the rapidly growing Azure cloud.
“By delivering the new cloud-optimised Ubuntu Core image on Azure, we’re extending our first-class support for Linux and enabling freedom of choice so developers everywhere can innovate even faster.”
Docker CEO Ben Golub claimed that Docker’s transactional application delivery is shaping modern application development and DevOps practice, and that snappy Ubuntu brings the same transactional updates to the operating system itself.
“We’re delighted to see the Docker ecosystem expand with this exciting new platform,” he added.
Canonical released Ubuntu Server 14.10 with support for OpenStack cloud deployment in October.
HP has announced general availability of its Helion OpenStack cloud platform and Helion Development Platform based on Cloud Foundry.
The Helion portfolio was announced by HP earlier this year, when the firm disclosed that it was backing the OpenStack project as the foundation piece for its cloud strategy.
At the time, HP issued the HP Helion OpenStack Community edition for pilot deployments, and promised a full commercial release to follow, along with a developer platform based on the Cloud Foundry code.
HP revealed today that the commercial release of HP Helion OpenStack is now available as a fully supported product for customers looking to build their own on-premise infrastructure-as-a-service cloud, along with the HP Helion Development platform-as-a-service designed to run on top of it.
“We’ve now gone GA [general availability] on our first full commercial OpenStack product and actually started shipping it a couple of weeks ago, so we’re now open for business and we already have a number of customers that are using it for proof of concept,” HP’s CloudSystem director for EMEA, Paul Morgan, told The INQUIRER.
Like other OpenStack vendors, HP is offering more than just the bare OpenStack code. Its distribution is underpinned by a hardened version of HP Linux, and is integrated with other HP infrastructure and management tools, Morgan said.
“We’ve put in a ton of HP value add, so there’s a common look and feel across the different management layers, and we are supporting other elements of our cloud infrastructure software today, things like HP OneView, things like our Cloud Service Automation in CloudSystem,” he added.
The commercial Helion build has also been updated to include Juno, the latest version of the OpenStack framework released last week.
Likewise, the HP Helion Development Platform takes the open source Cloud Foundry platform and integrates it with HP’s OpenStack release to provide an environment for developers to build and deploy cloud-based applications and services.
HP also announced an optimised reference model for building a scalable object storage platform based on its OpenStack release.
HP Helion Content Depot is essentially a blueprint to allow organisations or service providers to put together a highly available, secure storage solution using HP ProLiant servers and HP Networking hardware, with access to storage provided via the standard OpenStack Swift application programming interfaces.
Morgan said that the most interest in this solution is likely to come from service providers looking to offer a cloud-based storage service, although enterprise customers may also deploy it internally.
“It’s completely customisable, so you might start off with half a petabyte, with the need to scale to maybe 2PB per year, and it is a certified and fully tested solution that takes all of the guesswork out of setting up this type of service,” he said.
Content Depot joins the recently announced HP Helion Continuity Services as one of the growing number of solutions that the firm aims to offer around its Helion platform, he explained. These will include point solutions aimed at solving specific customer needs.
The firm also last month started up its HP Helion OpenStack Professional Services division to help customers with consulting and deployment services to implement an OpenStack-based private cloud.
Pricing for HP Helion OpenStack comes in at $1,200 per server with 9×5 support for one year. Pricing for 24×7 support will be $2,200 per server per year.
“We see that is very competitively priced compared with what else is already out there,” Morgan said.
Canonical has released Ubuntu Server 14.10 for data centre server and cloud applications, offering its latest technology for scale-out infrastructure.
The British software company claims that this latest release of Ubuntu Server features the fastest, most secure hypervisors available on bare metal, as well as the latest in container technologies with Docker 1.2.
Canonical says that Ubuntu Server 14.10 with Docker 1.2 is unique in that it offers user-level container management and includes support that enables higher density cloud operations than a virtualisation layer.
The firm is targeting large enterprises that want to deploy what it calls “scale-out” cloud computing with this release.
Canonical says that Ubuntu 14.10 includes some of the most valuable and complex cloud software technologies in use today, including Cloud Foundry, ElasticSearch, Hadoop with Hive and PigLatin as well as real-time data analytics with Storm big data technology.
The firm says that improved GUI for Juju service orchestration greatly simplifies deployment and scaling of these complex software infrastructures on public and private clouds, or on bare metal hardware through what it terms “metal as a service” (MaaS), claiming that full deployments take just minutes.
Canonical noted that its MaaS 1.6 hardware provisioning tool in Ubuntu Server 14.10 now supports a number of different operating systems as guests, including Windows Server with Hyper-V, CentOS and openSUSE.
Canonical also said that Ubuntu 14.10 presents a consistent operating system experience for all major hardware architectures: ARM, ARM64, x86, x86-64 and Power8. ARM64 support is added for the launch of next-generation hyperscale, hyperdense servers from HP and AMD.
The firm added that Ubuntu Server 14.10 includes the addition of bcache, which adds disk acceleration to extend SSD performance to large, cost-effective rotating disks.
For cloud deployments, Canonical said that Ubuntu Server 14.10 includes the latest OpenStack Juno, which includes more granular policy controls for object storage as well as initial support for network function virtualization.
The latest version of the cloud computing stack contains 342 new features, 3,219 bug fixes, almost 500,000 lines of modified documentation and a new Architecture Design Guide.
1,419 unique contributors including representatives from 133 companies made it all happen over six months.
Last month it was revealed that HP had overtaken Red Hat in terms of overall contributions to Juno, and is closing in on Red Hat’s overall lead.
However, Red Hat has shifted focus more towards the cloud market in recent strategy announcements, so that lead could widen again.
The new version adds storage policies, data processing provisioning for Hadoop and Spark and takes the initial steps towards being a platform for Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) in a future release, meaning that it would be capable of managing a number of functions currently fulfilled by expensive software.
Other new features include Nova Compute, a rescue mode improvement with the option to boot from alternative images via locally attached disks, update scheduling and internationalisation updates.
For networking, the Neutron module includes IPv6 and third-party driver testing, plug-ins, and migration support from Nova to Neutron.
The Keystone identity service allows users to share credentials for private and public OpenStack clouds.
The Heat engine, which manages orchestration, includes advanced rollback options in the event of failed deployment and the option for administrators to delegate creation of resources to non-admins.
The Horizon Dashboard now offers Hadoop deployment in a few clicks, enabling rapidly scalable data processing with custom parameters.
Finally, the Trove database allows users to manage relational database servcies in the OpenStack environment.
Of course, OpenStack waits for no-one. With this release safely out, work now begins on the next version, codenamed Kilo, which is due in April 2015.
The partnership comprises of the Seamicro SM15000 server, the Ubuntu LTS 14.04 Linux distribution and Openstack, which includes a set of tools to build more flexible and reliable private clouds.
“The AMD and Canonical collaboration overcomes the complexity of deploying OpenStack technology and provides an out of the box experience making it possible to deploy a private cloud in hours compared to days,” AMD said.
“The joint solution automates complex configuration tasks, simplifies management, and provides a graphical user interface to dynamically deploy new services on demand.”
AMD said that a large amount of engineering resources have gone into the project to provide an integrated set of products that mitigate the complexity of an Openstack technology deployment.
“The SM15000 server, Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack is an amazing solution filling a need in the industry for an Openstack solution that can be deployed easily without spending a fortune on professional services or hiring teams of people,” the firm added.
The Seamicro SM15000 server, Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack combination is touted as one the most scalable configurations in the industry, due to its benchmark record for hyperscale cloud computing. The record of 168,000 virtual machines was achieved using Metal as a Service (MAAS) and Juju, both part of Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack. MAAS was used to deliver the bare metal servers, storage and networking, and Juju was used for deployment.
The solution is available today, the firms announced jointly, boasting it is “the most scalable, automated application for deploying Ubuntu LTS 14.04 and Openstack in hyperscale environments”.
Today AMD also announced another partnership, with RealVNC to bring remote access software to devices running AMD Firepro professional graphics cards.
The venture is said to “get an experience similar to using a local desktop” and will integrate the software with AMD’s Firepro line of professional graphics cards so users can “work at whole new levels of detail, speed, responsiveness and creativity, wherever they are in the world, whenever they need to”.
The collaboration also allows users to edit hi-resolution photos, edit and manipulate 4k videos or render large 3D and CAD files from a laptop and, eventually, even their tablets or smartphones.
Canonical has revealed more details about its upcoming offer to build and manage Openstack cloud computing systems for a fee of $15 per host server per day.
Now renamed Bootstack, the offering is still in private beta. When it is fully available, the service will see Canonical engineers building and managing complete Openstack infrastructure as a service (Iaas) private clouds for customers, to their specifications and using their choice of hardware.
Bootstack was first announced under the Your Cloud branding by Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth during a keynote at the Openstack Summit in Atlanta in May. Not only has the name now changed, but Canonical is offering customers the option of having their private cloud hosted by IBM’s SoftLayer cloud division, as an alternative to having it built and operated inside their own data centre.
In a posting on the Ubuntu Insights blog, Canonical cloud marketing manager Sally Radwan explained that Bootstack (short for build, operate, and optionally transfer) will make it easier for a customer to get up and running with a cloud platform, and take over the operational management at some point in the future, if required.
“Canonical will manage the cloud for you for a fixed price, relieving you from the pain of recruiting and training Openstack staff. When your team is ready to take over your cloud operations, Canonical will transfer it to your care. It’s the best way to get up and running quickly on Openstack,” she said.
Bootstack can deliver a test cloud using as few as five host servers for proof-of-concept purposes, but it can also deliver an enterprise-scale production cloud, backed by 24/7 management and support, Canonical said.
The $15 per host server per day fee excludes the hardware or hosting costs, but does include service level agreements (SLAs) so that Canonical takes responsibility for the uptime and responsiveness of the customer’s cloud infrastructure.
Organizations interested in Canonical’s Bootstack offering can get in touch with the firm to find out more details via its website.
IBM has launched a version of Openstack that can be downloaded directly from its Marketplace like any other application.
IBM Cloudmanager with Openstack is based on IBM Cloudentry, and includes full access to Icehouse, the latest version of Openstack. As well as appearing in its own right, it can also be bought as part of a package along with the recently announced IBM Power Systems server range to form the extensively titled IBM Power Systems Solution Edition for Scale Out Cloud.
This is something of a watershed moment for the Openstack cloud platform. This is the first time that an interested developer can simply download the suite and start customising it without the need to involve vendors, middlemen or support, unless they choose to do so.
“IBM Cloud Manager with Openstack provides the openness and flexibility to increase a business’ ability to capitalise on opportunities by quickly delivering new cloud services” said Jane Munn, IBM VP and business line executive for Cloud.
“In addition, open community development facilitates vendor interoperability, allowing IBM clients and businesses partners to adapt their cloud assets in response to changing business needs.”
IBM has made a number of recent announcements in the cloud arena, including new commerce platform Experienceone and the big data management technique known as Elastic Data, which rearranges datasets to bring relevant information into faster storage in a given scenario, a technique pioneered for the Watson supercomputer.
Last week, fellow Openstack advocate Canonical announced that it has made available what chairman Mark Shuttleworth described as “Chuck Norris grade” Openstack.
Dell’s public cloud service was the firm’s offering that was meant to tempt customers that buy kit from the firm not to run off to Amazon. Now it seems that Dell doesn’t want to run its own cloud datacentre operations but resell services through its Cloud Partner Program.
Dell’s Cloud Partner Program presently has three providers signed up, with Joyent arguably being the biggest name so far. Dell also announced that it will resell services for Scalematrix and Zerolag, adding that its customers can use Dell as a cloud service broker rather than as a cloud provider.
Dell’s public cloud had been using Openstack, an open source suite of software that promotes software interoperability between cloud service providers. The firm’s decision to dump its public cloud service is not only a blow for Openstack, but an admission that the Texas based PC vendor does not want to compete with Amazon Web Services.
Dell Cloud VP Nnamdi Orakwue said, “The partner approach offers increased value to Dell’s customers, channel partners and shareholders, as part of our comprehensive cloud strategy to deliver market-leading, end-to-end cloud solutions.”
Orakwue spun Dell’s announcement as giving customers the choice they apparently want in cloud service providers, though given the almost ubiquitous availability of Amazon Web Services, one has to question whether customers really care about having a choice of cloud providers, no matter how important it might be for competition.
Dell said it will continue to provide private cloud services and claimed it is still committed to the Openstack project. The firm added that customers can buy services through its Cloud Partner Program immediately.
Rackspace is one of the leaders of the Openstack alliance, an open source cloud initiative that aims to break Amazon’s stranglehold on the industry by offering open application programmable interfaces (APIs). Until now Openstack has largely been all talk, but Rackspace has deployed a production Openstack cloud that the firm claims will help it sell Openstack to the enterprise.
Fabio Torlini, VP of cloud at Rackspace said the firm has been “going flat out to make the code production ready”. Torlini said Rackspace’s decision to deploy an Openstack based cloud could be a tipping point in deployment. “It’s going to be the catalyst for many other companies deploying Openstack,” said Torlini.
Rackspace has been the largest contributor to Openstack and the fact that it has the first major Openstack deployment support claims that Rackspace is getting the most out of Openstack.
However Torlini said, “For us, we’re able to be the first one to launch a large scale Openstack compute platform because, yes, we are one of the main providers of the original code and we are a founder of Openstack, so we have tried to develop Openstack as a neutral foundation and it is a foundation to provide a service to all its members. But we’re lucky enough to be one of the founder members, to be able to drive it, and get there [deployment] first.”
Torlini defended Rackspace’s role in the Openstack alliance, claiming the strong leadership shown by the firm is good for the community. Torlini said, “Openstack is beneficial to the product itself but that’s the whole point. The whole idea of many more providers going onto Openstack helping develop the Openstack cloud, helping advance the actual products and code is the whole point of Openstack. On the counter side of that argument is if it’s beneficial for us it is just as beneficial for any other member of Openstack because they have access to the same code and they are able to provide.”
Torlini admitted that Openstack and the community is an advantage for the firm but claimed it wasn’t possible for Rackspace to dominate. “You have companies in Openstack that are far larger than Rackspace enabled to put much more resources into Openstack as well, it’s impossible for us to dominate Openstack – it’s an independent foundation. Is it advantageous from a product perspective? I should damn well hope so,” said Torlini.
As for Amazon, which operates a proprietary cloud, Torlini suggested the firm might have to open up if it is to remain competitive. Torlini said, “I think they [Amazon] may need to force themselves to go in that direction. What I think they will struggle with is to offer is the complete level of service [...] in terms of supporting private clouds based on the same code set and public clouds based on the same codeset. There’s a big gap for them to close because they don’t come from a service background but I think they will have make their products more open.”
Rackspace’s Openstack cloud is a big seal of approval for the software to which the firm and many other large software vendors have contributed. Torlini is correct in that Rackspace’s move could well spur others to move away from Amazon in the search of interoperability with multiple cloud providers, however until Rackspace’s competitors start deploying Openstack based clouds, there won’t be a big difference to developers.
Security experts have warned that the cloud could suffer the same kind of collapses that plague the financial system. Bryan Ford at Yale University in New Haven says that the full risks of this migration have yet to be explored. Complex systems, such as the Cloud, can fail in many unexpected ways and outlines various simple scenarios in which a cloud could come unstuck.
He said that a cloud could experience a full meltdown that could threaten any business. Ford said that while individual systems on a cloud might play nice, if you have other application providers in the same cause problems for another. He came up with a scenario were two conflicting load balancing programs operate with the same refresh period and when these periods coincide, the control loops start sending the load back and forth between the virtual servers in a positive feedback loop.
He said that “This simplistic example might be unlikely to occur in exactly this form on real systems—or might be quickly detected and “?xed” during development and testing—but it suggests a general risk.” Ford said that similar problems happened during ?nancial industry crashes.
But he said that a more general risk arises when systems are complex because seemingly unrelated parts can become coupled in unexpected ways. Complexity theorists are beginning to recognise this problem and the consensus is that bizarre and unpredictable behavior often emerges in systems made up of “networks of networks”. Ford concludes with the following: “We should study [these unrecognized risks] before our socioeconomic fabric becomes inextricably dependent on a convenient but potentially unstable computing model.”
Few companies have moved to cloud computing — the delivery of computing as a service from remote centers — and of those that have, many are disappointed with the results, a survey published on Tuesday revealed.
Fewer than one in five organizations questioned have outsourced the hosting of their applications to cloud computing providers, with two-thirds in early discussions, in trials or not considering a move, said computer security firm Symantec.
Many firms are looking at cloud computing providers such as Amazon, Microsoft, Salesforce, Google or Rackspace to help them increase their scale without installing expensive hardware and software locally.
IT research firm Forrester has forecast that the global cloud computing market will grow from $41 billion this year to $241 billion in 2020.
While three out of four organizations have adopted or are currently adopting cloud services such as backup, storage and security, when it comes to the wholesale outsourcing of applications there is more talk than action, Symantec found.
Concerns about security and a lack of expertise among IT staff are the main factors holding companies back, according to the survey of 5,300 organizations carried out by Symantec, which makes the popular Norton anti-virus software.
“While computing changes constantly, most shifts are simple changes that don’t require organizations to change the core of how they work. Not so with cloud computing,” Symantec said. “It requires organizations to change how they approach IT.”
Symantec found that security was the number-one concern of organizations mulling a move to the cloud, with more than half of respondents worried about malware outbreaks, hackers stealing their data and insiders sharing sensitive information.
But the majority of respondents also said they expected that implementing cloud computing would eventually improve or at least not affect their security.