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Canonical offers Ubuntu cloud support licences

Highlights the competitive advantage of Free Software
Fri Jul 29 2011, 09:48

LINUX VENDOR Canonical has announced a support package that it believes will help it become the operating system of choice in cloud deployments.

Canonical, maintainer of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, has been pushing hard to gain a foothold in the enterprise and in particular the fast growing cloud market. While Ubuntu is popular among consumers, the professional market that really holds the key for many Linux vendors. Nick Barcet, cloud solutions product manager at Canonical told The INQUIRER, "Current software licences do not provide the elasticity that cloud users require."

Barcet said that Canonical's cloud licensing doesn't depend on the total number of Ubuntu instances firms are running but rather the subset for which they want to have support. Of course Ubuntu Server is free, so all of this surrounds support contracts that companies put in place in order to keep things running smoothly.

Barcet explained that if a firm had 150 Ubuntu instances on a cloud deployment but bought support for 100 of them, any of those 150 instances could have support, up to a maximum of 100. The point of all this, said Barcet, is "the physical machine is not what is important anymore" and the future is about "service management" not virtual machine management.

On the subject of Canonical's competitors, such as Red Hat and Suse, Barcet said that Ubuntu's less conservative approach to releases is what cloud developers are asking for. Barcet claimed that "cloud developers are breaking new ground" and that "Canonical is seeing lots of movement from Red Hat [Enterprise Linux] and SLES [Suse Linux Enterprise Server] due to non-freshness".

There's no doubt that Red Hat and Suse play a conservative game, and it is one that has served them well. However there could well be some developers who prefer a slightly more cutting edge flavour of Linux. The question is, can Canonical get close enough to the edge without cutting itself? That is likely to be tested as firms start to put faith into Canonical.

Asked if Canonical will move ever more towards enterprise, Barcet said "our consumer focus will never go but the enterprise market interests us a lot". Barcet made a specific point that the enterprise market, from Canonical's point of view, is primarily the cloud market for the time being.

"The server market is trickier than the cloud," according to Barcet. By the server market Barcet was referring to installing on bare metal, which in a cloud deployment is the realm of the hypervisor. Barcet explained, "the datacenter has a five year lifecycle and for Canonical it is a waste of time going after that".

Instead, Barcet said the cloud market is not only growing but the lifecycle is a lot shorter.

Barcet's comments put paid to any doubt that Ubuntu is merely a Linux distribution pitched at those who have had enough of Windows. Forget Microsoft, Red Hat and Suse will have to look over their shoulders as Canonical makes a concerted effort to muscle in on the big boys. µ


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