Ubuntu 16.10 targets hybrid cloud deployments, supports Unity 8 development

Canonical hopes its latest release of Ubuntu draws users away from Red Hat and SUSE

Ubuntu 16.10 targets hybrid cloud deployments, supports Unity 8 development
Credit: Liam Quinn (modified)

Canonical, developer of Ubuntu, a distribution of Linux, released a new version of its software that targets hybrid cloud deployments. Ubuntu is often mentioned as one of the top 3 distributions of Linux when shipments are considered, depending upon which research firm one cites.

What Canonical has to say about Ubuntu 16.10

Canonical pointed out that this release of Ubuntu targets high-performance network deployments, including hybrid cloud implementations. The following summarizes the announcement:

  • Ubuntu is the platform used in the majority of cloud deployments worldwide.
  • Version 16.10 includes tools or hybrid cloud operations, bare-metal cloud performance.
  • It provides enterprises with the ability to "lift and shift" 80 percent of Linux virtual machines to machine containers.
  • It includes Kubernetes for process-container coordination.
  • It also includes full container support in OpenStack, as well as "telco-grade" networking latency enhancements.

Canonical went on to discuss other features of this release:

  • Version 16.10 includes “The world’s fastest hypervisor, LXD, and the world’s best cloud operating system, Ubuntu, together with the latest OpenStack and Kubernetes make for the world’s fastest and best private cloud infrastructure.”
  • Universal "snap" Linux packages that merge container and packaging technology give developers a single format to distribute their apps and services from cloud to IoT. Snaps work on Ubuntu 16.10, 16.04 LTS, 14.04 LTS and a range of Linux operating systems.
  • Rocket.Chat, the open-source web chat platform, had to support over 30 deployment platforms across many different on-premises and cloud solutions. Making Rocket.Chat available as a snap was a simple process, which now means any user can install the service in a few minutes as opposed to requiring hours of configuration by a system administrator.
  • MAAS 2.0, the “physical cloud” featuring IPAM and bare metal provisioning of Ubuntu, CentOS and Windows hosts, is now highly available in standard configurations. Metal as a Services (MAAS) enables a physical data center to “feel like a cloud,” with on-demand availability of machines with custom images through a web or REST API. Total automation from the moment racks enter the building to the moment apps are running is the goal of MAAS.
  • The general availability release of Juju 2.0 enables organizations to operate "big software" applications such as Hadoop and Kubernetes in a consistent, model-driven fashion across multiple public clouds and private infrastructure. Model-driven operations provide an "open source SAAS" experience, transforming the process for application onboarding and with shared and crowdsourced operational code. Juju 2.0 added support for vSphere infrastructure, enabling private clouds on both OpenStack and VMware.
  • Network performance is a primary focus of this release, with updated versions of Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK), OpenVSwitch (OVS) and virtualization technologies, all able to handle critical application traffic for lower latency and greater throughput. Ubuntu 16.10 and the corresponding updates to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS further enhance Ubuntu’s position as the leading private cloud infrastructure operating system, with OpenStack Newton, DPDK, enhanced OpenVSwitch and LXD machine containers alongside regular KVM-based VM guests.
  • Ubuntu 16.10 previews Canonical’s device convergence vision. Unity 8 developer preview includes apps that scale from phone to desktop, from mouse to touchscreen, setting a precedent for the next wave of Linux devices.
  • Full range of containers: Ubuntu 16.10 features all types of containers: process containers (Docker 1.12), machine containers (LXD 2.4) and application containers (Snapd 2.16).
  • The Canonical Distribution of Kubernetes provides high-level coordination of process containers such as Docker, OCID and Rkt. Kubernetes is supported on all major public clouds, bare metal and OpenStack.
  • Canonical OpenStack with the LXD pure-container hypervisor provides high-level management for lightweight machine containers at scale. Machine containers look, feel and operate like virtual machines, enabling companies to lift and shift virtual machines to containers with no modifications to the app or operations.
  • On the desktop, LibreOffice, Krita and VLC have all published snaps to distribute a universal package across Linux distributions. Nextcloud, an open solution for hosting and file sharing, are leveraging snaps on the Nextcloud box, a private cloud solution for home users, running from a Raspberry Pi.
  • All Canonical server, cloud and container products are available on Intel/AMD64, x86, IBM LinuxONE, Z Systems, POWER and ARMv8-A.

Quick take on the announcement

Today's modern operating environments are among the most complex software packages the market has created. Ubuntu, like other Linux distributions, consists of many individual open-source projects combined and integrated in the hopes of moving use from a computer science project to a commercial "load and go" experience.

Since the distributors all gather technology from the same open-source projects, the distinguishing features that separate Linux distributions are:

  • What was included?
  • What was excluded?
  • How was the technology integrated and tested?
  • What other packages of technology are available and pre-integrated?
  • What tools are provided for management, operations, installation and support?
  • How were operating system and subsystem parameters set to optimize the package to support a specific use case?

Since we're talking about industrial wizardry of the highest order, it can be quite difficult to evaluate Linux distributions in detail. Often enterprises have to make their selections based on the reputation and support offered by the distributor rather than on a detailed list of what open-source projects have been included, how each operating system and subsystem parameters were set and, of course, why it was set up that way.

In the case of Ubuntu, it is clear that Canonical has packaged up the newest releases of several open-source projects, integrating them for a target audience of enterprises that have plans to create their own hybrid clouds based on OpenStack. It offers packages that can support a broad array of hardware platforms and use cases.

What the announcement didn't focus on was the inclusion of a myriad of other open-source technology that can be used to support many other use cases.

I must point out that Red Hat and SUSE also offer somewhat similar packages, and choosing among them often boils down to which supplier has become a trusted friend rather than the piece/parts that have been included in the package.

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