Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'ubuntu cloud'

mark

This is a series of posts on reasons to choose Ubuntu for your public or private cloud work & play.

We run an extensive program to identify issues and features that make a difference to cloud users. One result of that program is that we pioneered dynamic image customisation and wrote cloud-init. I’ll tell the story of cloud-init as an illustration of the focus the Ubuntu team has on making your devops experience fantastic on any given cloud.

 

Ever struggled to find the “right” image to use on your favourite cloud? Ever wondered how you can tell if an image is safe to use, what keyloggers or other nasties might be installed? We set out to solve that problem a few years ago and the resulting code, cloud-init, is one of the more visible pieces Canonical designed and built, and very widely adopted.

Traditionally, people used image snapshots to build a portfolio of useful base images. You’d start with a bare OS, add some software and configuration, then snapshot the filesystem. You could use those snapshots to power up fresh images any time you need more machines “like this one”. And that process works pretty amazingly well. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of such image snapshots scattered around the clouds today. It’s fantastic. Images for every possible occasion! It’s a disaster. Images with every possible type of problem.

The core issue is that an image is a giant binary blob that is virtually impossible to audit. Since it’s a snapshot of an image that was running, and to which anything might have been done, you will need to look in every nook and cranny to see if there is a potential problem. Can you afford to verify that every binary is unmodified? That every configuration file and every startup script is safe? No, you can’t. And for that reason, that whole catalogue of potential is a catalogue of potential risk. If you wanted to gather useful data sneakily, all you’d have to do is put up an image that advertises itself as being good for a particular purpose and convince people to run it.

There are other issues, even if you create the images yourself. Each image slowly gets out of date with regard to security updates. When you fire it up, you need to apply all the updates since the image was created, if you want a secure machine. Eventually, you’ll want to re-snapshot for a more up-to-date image. That requires administration overhead and coordination, most people don’t do it.

That’s why we created cloud-init. When your virtual machine boots, cloud-init is run very early. It looks out for some information you send to the cloud along with the instruction to start a new machine, and it customises your machine at boot time. When you combine cloud-init with the regular fresh Ubuntu images we publish (roughly every two weeks for regular updates, and whenever a security update is published), you have a very clean and elegant way to get fresh images that do whatever you want. You design your image as a script which customises the vanilla, base image. And then you use cloud-init to run that script against a pristine, known-good standard image of Ubuntu. Et voila! You now have purpose-designed images of your own on demand, always built on a fresh, secure, trusted base image.

Auditing your cloud infrastructure is now straightforward, because you have the DNA of that image in your script. This is devops thinking, turning repetitive manual processes (hacking and snapshotting) into code that can be shared and audited and improved. Your infrastructure DNA should live in a version control system that requires signed commits, so you know everything that has been done to get you where you are today. And all of that is enabled by cloud-init. And if you want to go one level deeper, check out Juju, which provides you with off-the-shelf scripts to customise and optimise that base image for hundreds of common workloads.

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Sonia Ouarti

You have critical decisions ahead as you take your first steps into cloud computing.

One of them will be whether to build a private cloud infrastructure in your own data centre, make use of one of the public cloud services offered by vendors like Amazon, Rackspace and HP, or combine the two in a ‘hybrid cloud’ approach.

You can get closer to the right decision by considering the right questions now:

  • Budget - How much do you have (or how much don’t you have) to support your cloud strategy?
  • Speed - When do you need this done? Tomorrow, next year, yesterday…
  • Demand - How many users will you need to support? And will they call come at once?
  • Resources - What kind of resources do you have in-house? And how many can you realistically get your hands on?
  • Privacy -How sensitive is your data? Where are you doing business?

This short, sharp checklist takes you through the process that points you in the right direction and ensures your investments pay off from the start. Download it today.

 

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Cezzaine Haigh

The cloud is disrupting the enterprise computing world, driven by the growth of open-source software. As a result, new opportunities are emerging; it’s time to exploit them. 

On the 30th October, Canonical will host an Ubuntu Enterprise Summit in Copenhagen. Industry analysts and enterprise users of Ubuntu and open source technologies, will join key figures from Canonical to discuss the opportunities these converging trends present.

The event is designed around three key topics

- How flexibility creates business value
- Choosing which bandwagon to board
- The way ahead, from client to cloud

With a keynotes from Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth and two streams of content – one aimed at business decision-makers and the other at enterprise technologists – it offers an essential briefing on delivering effective IT in a cloud-obsessed world.

Learn more and register your place.

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Cezzaine Haigh

The first Ubuntu Cloud Summit, hosted by Canonical and Redmonk, takes place in Oakland, California on May 8th and the speakers are now confirmed. It promises to be a riveting day for anyone interested in cloud strategy. If you haven’t secured your ticket yet, there’s still time – but hurry. They are disappearing fast.

Presenting on the day will be:

- Mark Shuttleworth, Founder of Ubuntu

- Kyle MacDonald, Director of Cloud, Canonical

- Stephen O’Grady, Principal Analyst & Co-founder, RedMonk

- John Purrier, Vice President of Cloud Infrastructure, HP

- Randy Bias, CTO, CloudScaling

- Patrick Chanezon, Senior Director of Developer Relations, VMware

- Robbie Williamson, Director of Ubuntu Server Engineering, Canonical

The day will cover the role of open-source software in cloud computing, some lessons from real world cloud deployments and an examination of how the cloud technologies in Ubuntu – including OpenStack, MAAS and Juju – come together to form an open cloud.

We’d love the chance to meet you there. To find out more and to book your place, go to  http://uds.ubuntu.com/cloud-summit/

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Canonical

A few weeks ago myself and Dustin Kirkland had the privilege of travelling to the Intel facility in Hillsboro, Oregon to work with Billy Cox, Rekha Raghu, Paul Guermonprez, Trevor Cooper and Kamal Natesan of Intel and Dan Nurmi and Neil Soman of Eucalyptus Systems and a few others on developing a proof of concept whitepaper on the use of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud on Intel Xeon processors (Nehalem).

The whitepaper is published today on the Intel site (registration required) so it seems like a good time to talk about why we collaborated.

The Intel Cloud Builder program is intended to develop some best practice information for businesses and institutions looking to take advantage of the promise of cloud computing. As we do consistently with UEC, we are being specific when we talk about cloud as the ability to build Infrastructure as a Service behind a corporate firewall – that is on your own systems, protected by your own security protocols.

In Portland we had access to some great hardware and as an ex-Intel man, it was good to mess directly with the metal again. Intel defined a number of use and test cases and the guys from Intel, Eucalyptus and myself were able to have some fun putting UEC through its paces. And the results were good. We documented them and the whitepaper gives numerous code and scenario examples to help anyone new to cloud to get up to speed really quickly and the make the most of the capabilities of the Xeon processor in supporting an internal IaaS infrastructure. You can find out how to get started on UEC with existing documentation. but this whitepaper takes it to the next stage.

Being able to test the software as part of the Intel Cloud Builder program and jointly publish this whitepaper is a great endorsement of what is still a young technology. And I hope it will give users confidence to start building their own UEC deployment on x86 technology.

Nick Barcet, Ubuntu Server Product Manager

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