Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'cloud'


Many of you will have heard about Ubuntu’s convergence goals on the client side — running a single, consistent code-base and experience that adapts to phones, desktops, tablets, and TVs…but are you aware of our convergence on the cloud?

Ubuntu and our cloud orchestration service, Juju, provides a platform and the tools to be able to deploy your service (from a simple blog to a full enterprise and production deployment) across a range of clouds…be it a public cloud, private cloud, or bare metal. Prototyping, staging, deploying to production, and scaling up are simple.

At the heart of Juju are the charms…the range of components that form a service (e.g. WordPress, Hadoop, Mongo, Drupal etc). Inside each charm is an encapsulation of best practice from domain experts for each component that automates how charms relate together in your service. Best practice connected to best practice in a service that easily scales is the backbone of Juju.

In much the same way we are building a consistent experience and set of features that run across phones, desktop, tablets, and TVs, we are also building a consistent experience and set of tools for delivering services across different clouds, bare metal, or local containers. Ubuntu for clouds is not merely bound to a single cloud…the point is that what matters is your service and you can easily migrate your service between public and private clouds and bare metal. Again, a converged experience across multiple services.

On the client side this convergence means a more consistent user experience with no fragmentation, consistent platform for deploying content across devices that is cheaper to deploy, and makes multiple product lines available to vendors and builds institutional knowledge across different product lines.

On the cloud side this convergence means that you are in control of your service. When you or your staff know how to use Ubuntu and the cloud orchestration tools we provide (such as Juju), you are in control of your service and you can prototype and deploy it where you want easily, whether a private or public cloud or bare metal, scale out when required, and build consistent institutional knowledge.

What makes Ubuntu on the cloud even more interesting is that Juju GUI also crosses the chasm between service topology on the office whiteboard and a running service – you can literally draw your service and everything spins up effortlessly.

Ubuntu is all about convergence and bringing simplicity and power to our devices, to our clouds, and all powered by Open Source.

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If you are going to be in Portland, Oregon in the next few weeks, I wanted to share some of the things I will be doing. If you want a meeting while I am at the Community Leadership Summit and OSCON, please get in touch and we can coordinate.

Community Leadership Summit 2013

I founded the Community Leadership Summit five years ago and the event has grown to become the primary annual meeting place for community managers, leaders, and those interested in the art and science of community management. I am really proud of how CLS has grown and matured over the years, and many thanks to our wonderful attendees who make it so fantastic.

This year’s event is shaping up to be awesome. We have a fantastic set of registered attendees, a full unconference format, enhanced audio and video facilities, and more.

Many thanks to our wonderful sponsors who have helped to support the event:

  • O’Reilly
  • Liferay
  • Microsoft
  • Adobe
  • Mozilla
  • OpenNMS
  • Google

The event is completely free to attend. read more about how it works and how to get there and see the schedule.


Lots going on at OSCON this year.

To begin with I will be running my first community management training workshop at OSCON on Mon 22nd July. This is a full-day workshop, so be sure to come and join me. Details are here.

Then on Tues 23rd July at 9.00am Jorge and Mark M will be running Service Orchestration In The Cloud With Juju – a full workshop that covers using Juju to deliver production services and how Juju charms work.

Next on Wed 24th July at 9.55am Mark Shuttleworth will be giving his keynote.

Wed 24th July is going to be a busy day for me with the following in my schedule:

See the full OSCON schedule.

We will also have a full Ubuntu booth staffed by many members of Ubuntu Oregon talking about Ubuntu for phones, desktops, and tablets, and Ubuntu for the cloud and our Juju orchestration platform.

I hope to see you there!

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Many of you will be familiar with Juju, the powerful cloud orchestration platform we have been building.

Ubuntu has become the most popular Operating System in the world for cloud deployments, and Juju brings a powerful orchestration platform with over 100 services ready to deploy. It enables you to build entire environments in the cloud with only a few commands on public clouds such as Amazon Web Services and HP Cloud, private clouds built with OpenStack, or raw bare metal via Metal As a Service (MAAS).

If you haven’t seen and tried Juju, I strongly recommend you do so. It makes spinning up a service, relating different components (e.g WordPress and MySQL), and scaling up (such as when you get Slashdotted) quick and easy, but powerful enough for comprehensive production services.

Want to give it a try? Click here to get started.

The Juju Charm Championship

Jorge Castro on my team has been working over the last few years to grow our community of Juju charmers, running charm schools online and offline, coordinating tutorials, education weeks, and working with many different upstreams to help them harness Juju.

Recently we kicked off a particularly fun part of our community growth efforts in the form of the Juju Charm Championship.

The idea is simple:

  1. Charm up the individual services in your infrastructure, make something that is cool and repeatable.
  2. Put it together into a Juju bundle.
  3. Submit your stack.
  4. Win money…with over $30,000 USD in prizes!

That’s right…cold hard cash for building an awesome charm.

Let’s talk more about the cash. There are basically three categories:

  • High Availability – represents a full stack of HA-enabled services to accomplish a task.
  • Data Mining – represents a full stack of data mining and “big data” analysis.
  • Monitoring – represents a full stack of monitoring solutions for existing services.

The winner of each category will win $10,000. It doesn’t stop there though. In addition to these prizes, individual charm maintainers of a reviewed charm in the reviewed section of the Charm Store will receive $200 if their charm is included in a winning template. This can be awarded multiple times, to a maximum total of $3,000 per category.

How To Enter

Entering is simple. Just head to this page to get started, which includes a full FAQ. If you need a tutorial for writing a charm, you can find it here. If you have any further questions feel free to post to the Juju mailing list or ask in #juju on Freenode.

Be sure to get started soon though, the competition closes on 1st October 2013!

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Last week I had a neat idea. Well, at least I think it is a neat idea. Let me share it with you folks to get your take.

We have been spending a lot of time refining every aspect of the application development process for writing Ubuntu phone/tablet/desktop applications. This has included:

  • Building a simple, and powerful Ubuntu SDK.
  • Building a comprehensive knowledge base on for getting started writing your first app, and performing common programming tasks.
  • Integrating source control, bug tracking, and more from Launchpad into the SDK.
  • Providing a safe and secure, sand-boxed environment to run apps in, and an automated process for reviewing how these apps come into Ubuntu and are exposed to Ubuntu users.

This is all part of an end-to-end process to make writing apps for Ubuntu fun, simple, and intuitive from the minute you load the SDK to the minute your app appears on a users phone, tablet, or desktop.

Project Websites

One piece we haven’t looked into is how app developers can set up a website for their app.

App websites vary tremendously in size and complexity. Some people just want a single static web page with details of the app and how to get it. Some want a more complex site with integrated forums, bug tracking, and more.

As part of what we can offer with Ubuntu, we should be able to bundle all aspects of your infrastructure too. Need a website? Check. Need a forum? Check. Need a bug tracker? Check.

Fortunately we have a powerful cloud orchestration tool in Juju that can not only simplify the deployment, management, and scaling of the service, but could potentially take virtually all of the pain out of getting the site set up in the first place, and then scale up where needed.

The Idea

Let’s assume I have just published my first version of my app in Ubuntu. I now need a simple website to get my app on the web and known to users. While I want to start simple, there is a possibility though that my project may become hugely popular making me a king among men and require a larger, more expansive web presence.

Let’s start simple though. Ideally, I want to be able to specify some configuration detail like this in a file:

   app-name: Read All About It
   download-archive-name: readallaboutit
   launchpad-project: readallaboutit
   website-strapline: All the headlines in your hand.
   screenshots: ['',
   page-about: True
   page-developers: True
   page-screenshots: True
   page-contact: False

…and then do this:

juju deploy --config myconfig.yaml ubuntu-app-website

The charm would read in the configuration file and generate a set of static web pages based on that configuration.

As an example, it would pre-populate chunks of the page, and generate developer information on the Developer page with details of the main branch, bug tracking, a form to submit a bug, and more (we can pull this from the Launchpad project).

It could look simple like this:

This would mean an app developer could spin-up a super light-weight app website with just a configuration file and Juju on whichever cloud service they prefer. This would be light-weight both in terms of getting up and running and resource usage; you could set this up on a tiny cloud instance. As ever, if my project was to get slashdotted I could scale up the service, as with any other Juju charm.

Now let’s assume I want to add more functionality to my website. This is where the real power of Juju could come in. Let’s assume I want a forum. I should be able to run:

juju deploy ubuntu-app-website-forum
juju relate ubuntu-app-website ubuntu-app-website-forum

This would then spin up a forum (or Discourse site) but the charm would integrate it into the existing website with a navigation link and shared theming. It could then look like this:

We could then conceivably have any number of supported additions (e.g. mailing lists, video streams, event organization, tutorial content, API docs etc) for the website that app maintainers can use to easily expand their service as they see fit.

Next Steps

I shared this idea with Jorge who thought it was a neat idea. He then talked with Marco who has been putting together a first cut that we can experiment with. If anyone is interested in helping to build this, please let me know in the comments.

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Recently I had a bit of a nightmarish experience that we might be able to transition into an opportunity. Let me share it with you.

For many years now I have been running my personal website at The site is nothing special, just my blog and some other content, and I have been running it on a dedicated host alongside some other sites (including Stuart Langridge’s homepage). Stuart and I shared the server and paid nearly $1400 a year for the hosting.

Recently we discussed shutting the server down and migrating our sites to shared hosting providers; we are tired of having to take care of a server and we wanted to cut costs. Stuart and I both run WordPress for all of our sites; I used to write and maintain my own CMS many moons ago, but moved to WordPress for convenience. We both wanted to end up in a position where we didn’t have to maintain the OS and WordPress and have to deal with upgrades, backups and other related sysadmin work. As such I started the process of exploring hosted WordPress providers. This is when the pain started.

Computing can be fraught with pain and danger.

At first I thought… Perfect! Taking a quick look at their site I could pay for my domain to point there and I could also pay to not have ads. There were two downsides though: I could not use my current theme (which is a premium WooThemes theme), and I couldn’t use my own plugins. Unfortunately I need two key plugins: phpmarkdown and Disqus comments and I may need additional plugins in the future. I would have happily compromised on the theme, but it seems that getting comments back out of Disqus and into WordPress is a pain, and converting years of mixed HTML and markdown blog posts was going to be a pain, as well as not having flexibility in the future. I looked at other WordPress providers but they all had similar problems.

Knowing I didn’t want a dedicated server due to the expense (and this would be just me paying this time, Stuart had already moved his site), I started looking into alternatives.

Now many of you will be screaming “use the cloud, Jono!“, but my worry here is that while my normal traffic is generally pretty consistent and predictable, every so often my site gets hammered into the ground with traffic, and I didn’t want to get stuck with a big bill. I wanted to instead just pay a monthly fee and know it wouldn’t extend beyond that in cost.

Getting All Virtual

As such it seemed my best option was going to be a Virtual Private Server (VPS). These are dedicated machines that share multiple virtual machines and you pay for a set of resources. If you want more resources, you simply upgrade your plan. This gives you the flexibility of a dedicated host but cheaper and without the risk of ballooning cloud costs.

Pictured: ballooning costs.

There are basically two types of VPS: Managed and Semi-Managed. The Managed plans include full technical support, backups, managed OS upgrades etc. Semi-Managed means you are basically on your own with a root shell, but many semi-managed plans also include a control panel that you can use to manage different parts of the server.

Managed was a little more expensive than I wanted to pay, but the idea of Semi-Managed was interesting, particularly if I could use a control panel to take care of the things on the server I didn’t want to care about (such as backups). So I started looking into different providers.

This is where I hit a roadblock. Ubuntu was a non-negotiable requirement for me in choosing a server, but irrespective of whether I went managed or semi-managed it seemed like these were my options with pretty much most of the VPS providers:

  1. cPanel Control Panel running on CentOS.
  2. Plesk Control Panel running on Debian.
  3. Ubuntu with no Control Panel.

From what I read, cPanel is considered the better panel, so I was optimally hoping for cPanel on Ubuntu, but it seemed I would need to compromise on both the panel (Plesk) and the OS (Debian). Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Debian, and most things in Ubuntu are the same in Debian, but not quite everything is and I would probably get caught up in those details. Also, I love the LTS support for Ubuntu.

With my Ubuntu requirement it seemed like the last option in the list above was my only real step forward, and this basically meant I was going to have to take care of the server manually. Now, I know some of you folks love doing that, but I don’t. It is not that I don’t have the knowledge to administer a server, and Ubuntu definitely makes it easier, it is just that I don’t really want to spend my time fiddling with Apache and MySQL; I just want it to work. Despite this I sucked it up, registered with a provider and a little while later I was all set up and running.

What I Want

One of the reasons I love Ubuntu is that it makes my computing experience easier. Ubuntu on my desktop lets me work quicker and more efficiently, and Ubuntu on the server lets me install what I need quickly and efficiently.

On the server though I still need to keep up to date with how to configure, manage, and maintain these components in my service. I care more about simply deploying a service, and ideally I would have an expert in the tools I use to make the specific configuration and performance decisions, but I am not an expert. As such using Ubuntu on the server in a VPS without a Control Panel relies on me learning the skills to run my service well.

This is why I want Juju to be able to control my VPS.

Juju has been focused on providing a fantastic deployment service for the cloud. It lets you set up and configure a comprehensive deployment in just a few commands, and a core design goal with Juju charms is to infuse the knowledge of deployment experts into the charms so that Juju users benefit from this knowledge and expertise when they deploy their service.

Knowledge flowing from a deployment expert into a charm.

Unfortunately I can’t currently use Juju with my VPS; it is currently focused on the cloud. I think however that Juju could benefit VPS hosting needs in a number of ways:

  • Simplifying Deployment – ideally I want to subscribe to a hosting plan, get my machine provisioned and then simply deploy WordPress with just a few Juju commands. This would save me having to poke around configuration files, setting up databases etc.
  • Scale Out – for those times when my site gets hammered by traffic I want to be able to scale up my resources to cater for the traffic. I would love Juju to be able to speak to my hosting provider’s API to be able to provision either more memory, CPUs or additional machines to cater to these needs.
  • Transitioning To The Cloud – if I could use Juju right now with my VPS it would make it simple to re-target my service to the cloud. With the sheer scale and focus of the cloud I will no doubt move to cloud hosting in the future, and Juju could simply that transition significantly.
  • Lower The Bar – if we provided support for VPS providers this would provide a means in which many more people would be able to play with, try, and experiment with Juju. This would in itself continue to grow Juju adoption.
  • Juju GUI – while I currently lack a panel, Juju GUI would be my panel. This would ease management of my service tremendously.
  • Great For Providers – the margins in hosting are low due to the competitiveness of the industry, and from what I could see in my research lots of people want to use Ubuntu as their server OS, but the lack of a panel makes it a complicating issue in some cases. Offering Juju and Juju GUI would make Ubuntu an even more attractive option for hosting providers and also likely reduce support costs.

After I went though this process I reached out to the Juju team to see what would be involved in bridging this gap. I talked with Mark Ramm who is managing Juju, who was resonant to the idea, but was also conscious that Canonical engineers are busy working on other parts of Juju. Fortunately there has been some work going on that could support this goal, and Mark suspected that it would not be a tremendous amount of work to build this support into Juju. I thought that this could be a fun project that our community could work on.

I have asked Jorge to coordinate with Mark to put together a list of what would need to be done. Jorge is going to follow up with a blog post and some next steps. Stay tuned if you are interested in contributing to this. Thanks!

UPDATE: See this page for what needs to be done and this discussion to get involved (you can join the juju mailing list here).

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Today we released the highly-anticipated Ubuntu 12.04 LTS release after a busy six month development cycle. The release is available in Desktop (see OMG! Ubuntu!’s great summary), Server, and Cloud Infrastructure form. You can also install the desktop easily from Windows by clicking here.

I am hugely proud of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS; I believe it is the best and bravest release we have ever shipped, and I am delighted to see Ubuntu’s continued progress in delivering a simple, elegant, and powerful Free Software platform for the Desktop, Server, and Cloud.

Aside from the release, the Ubuntu 12.04 cycle was in my mind an evolutionary cycle for us as a project. The focus on quality was firm and unrelenting; initiatives such as gated trunks, acceptance criteria, automated testing, and a strong focus on growing a testing community and widening our manual tests, all contributed to delivering a solid release. Canonical as a company continued to see a lot of growth, as did our community with initiatives such as the Developer Advisory team, application developer focused outreach, and our continued growth of the Juju charming community. I am not only proud of the 12.04 LTS release, but also of these workflow and growth improvements we also made as a community that are not immediately visible in the release. Thank-you to everyone who helped drive this important work.

Thank-you also to everyone of you who has participated in this release, whether you have worked on packages, provided testing, documentation, translations, support, advocacy, or anything else. Ubuntu really is a community effort, and without our wonderful community of contributors and supporters we would be nothing. Thank-you for all of your hard work and fantastic efforts.

After a busy six months let’s all take a few minutes to take a step back and be proud of what we accomplished. Rock and roll. :-)

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Folks, I just wanted to let you know about an exciting new event that will be happening the same week as the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Oakland, California.

Canonical in collaboration with Redmonk will be hosting The Ubuntu Cloud Summit; a one day event for both technology and business attendees interested in how open-source cloud computing can help their organizations.

The event takes place on Tuesday 8th May, at the The Oakland Marriott City Center Hotel.

The agenda is still being defined, but the sessions will cover some interesting ideas, challenges and trends around cloud computing and how attendees can deploy an open cloud in their organization.

Topics will include:

  • The Open Cloud – the role of open source in cloud computing—particularly how an open cloud enables a more flexible, vendor-neutral approach.
  • Lessons from cloud deployments – open cloud deployments are real and growing. We’ll discuss and illustrate through case studies the best approaches to deploying and maximising an open cloud.
  • Open Source cloud technologies – with Ubuntu including technologies such as OpenStack, MAAS and Juju, we’ll examine how they come together to form an open cloud.

Click here to find out more information.

How To Join

The cost of a ticket for attending this event is $100 which includes lunch and refreshments. Spaces are limited, so please share this information with your contacts and prospects to get registrations flowing.


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For those of you who missed the news, Ensemble is the white-hot new cloud deployment technology from the Ubuntu project. To see it is action, check out this screencast from Ahmed.

While Ensemble is awesome, it is only awesome with formulas to cover all the different deployment options in the archive (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!, phpBB etc), and we need your help to write these formulas.

Ensemble is a pure community project and if we work together to make these formulas, we can make the Free Software powered cloud easier and powerful than ever.

How Can I Help?


Every week Ahmed is preparing weekly posts that outline what work is going on in the community and highlighting areas where we really need formulas.

These posts all appear on the rocking; a portal filled with Ubuntu Cloud news, articles, screencasts, discussion and more. Be sure to add it as a favorite in your browser.

See the latest Ensemble Hit List and get involved!

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