Could Ubuntu get enterprises to finally embrace the cloud?

Ubuntu's ability to act as a gateway between on-premise IT and multiple clouds, using technology you probably already know, provides a much-need baby step for IT

The Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) allows you to build your own private cloud on existing hardware platforms that already run (or can run) Ubuntu Server, which is pretty much most of the Intel-based servers you have on hand. UEC is really just an implantation of the Eucalyptus cloud computing architecture, which is interface-level compatible with Amazon.com's cloud. This means that most who understand and deal with AWS will find UEC to be an on-premise extension of that technology, generally speaking.

The UEC architecture uses front-end computing that functions as the "controller," and one more "node" system using either KVM or Xen virtualization technology for running system images. Note that you cannot use just any OS image; it has to be prepared for use within UEC. A few basic images are provided by Canonical, the developer of UEC.

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The larger selling point here is the on-premise compatibility with Amazon Web Services. Those who use Amazon.com's EC2 -- there are legions of such users right now -- will be familiar with Amazon.com's S3, which allows you to persist data for use in the cloud. Eucalyptus offers a similar technology, called Walrus, which is interface-compatible with S3. Thus, if you're already an S3 shop, moving to this technology should not be much of a stretch.

What's most interesting about UEC is that enterprises can use it as an on-premise interface between many cloud providers. Therefore, UEC could become a way to create layers. For instance, UEC could provide a tiered approach to cloud computing, on-premise and public. First, you start with your own private cloud using UEC. Then you create interfaces to public cloud computing offerings, such as Amazon Web Services. Thus, you can mix and match your data, services, applications, and processes on your own private cloud and perhaps a public cloud or two, moving the data, services, applications, and processes between public and private clouds as you see fit.

It sounds like a good plan to me. We'll see how many out there will leverage UEC as a cloud multiplexer and manager. Also, the ability to have those on the fence around cloud computing due to the "control issue," to have a good jumping-off point using a private ("I can see and hug my server") cloud. Baby steps are always a good idea in IT.

This article, "Could Ubuntu get enterprises to finally embrace the cloud?," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the latest developments on cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

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