Unix Meets Cloud: Ubuntu Linux Now Ships with Built-in Online Storage APIs

Michael Manoochehri
Nov. 25 2009, 04:42AM EST

With the recent explosion of cloud computing services, developers now have more opportunities than ever to take advantage of enterprise-scale computing platforms. However, most cloud computing services, such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), have unique and incompatible APIs. This has provided a challenge for organizations wanting to develop in-house applications that can later be seamlessly deployed directly to Amazon's service when necessary. For example, Ubuntu Server, a Linux-based operating system supported by Europe's Canonical Ltd, is the most widely deployed operating system on EC2, yet there has been no way for developers to create private, EC2-compatible cloud computing systems internally with Ubuntu.

However, with the release of Ubuntu 9.10, Canonical is hoping to bridge the gap between private cloud systems and the public cloud provided by EC2. Ubuntu 9.10 now ships with the open-source Eucalyptus project's command line "Euca2ools," which help developers to create their own in-house cloud computing services. If more computing power is needed, Ubuntu 9.10's new features will allow developers to move their applications to Amazon's EC2 with little effort. Euca2ools provide developers with the same features of EC2's SOAP-based API (visit our listing of Amazon's cloud APIs here), allowing them to control virtual machine instances, manage images suitable for private usage or the EC2, and allocate block storage. More information about the Eucalyptus API can be found on the Eucalyptus documentation wiki.

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Canonical refers to the new cloud computing enhancements in Ubuntu 9.10 as the "Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud" (UEC). A recent press release from Canonical describes how the features of the UEC can be used in both private and public cloud configurations:

Having the same images available on UEC or on Amazon's public cloud means that work done can be deployed in either environment which improves portability and flexibility for users... Users familiar with elastic compute environments will be able to build similar infrastructure behind their firewall, avoiding any regulatory and security concerns that prevent many enterprises from taking advantage of cloud environments.

Ubuntu's decision to approach the EC2 API as a de facto interface is a step toward providing developers with better standardization in cloud computing services. For example, developers using Ubuntu images will now have the option to test their code on a private cloud before deploying to EC2 for production, potentially saving money and time until a public facing product is ready to ship. We've covered news about Amazon's cloud services and APIs extensively, check out some of our past Amazon stories.

Michael Manoochehri

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