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Windows Azure Now Supports Juju for Ubuntu Server Workloads

Canonical and Microsoft announced this week that the open source Ubuntu Juju tool used for services orchestration now works with Windows Azure.

Organizations running Linux-based Ubuntu Server on Windows Azure in virtual machines can use the Juju tool to connect services using Microsoft's cloud. Juju features a graphical user interface to make those connections. It's possible to "deploy more than 100 services (Juju Charms) onto Windows Azure Ubuntu instances," according to Canonical's announcement.

Canonical originally built Juju to support Ubuntu Server, but there are also ports of Juju that support Fedora and CentOS distros, as well as other Linux variants, according to Kyle MacDonald, vice president of cloud at Ubuntu. Juju's new support for Windows Azure broadens the tool's cloud support.

"Juju talks to a cloud, using the cloud API," MacDonald said, in a phone interview on Tuesday. "So Juju has previously been enabled to work with Amazon EC2, many of the OpenStack clouds, including the HP Cloud, DreamHost, Rackspace and others." Canonical worked with the OpenStack Group on Juju, and it has collaborated with Microsoft on the Juju tool ever since the beta days of Windows Azure, he added.

Move to the Cloud
Canonical's Ubuntu OS started as a desktop operating system, but Canonical also worked on a standalone server version about five or six years ago that has now grown to include cloud deployments via Amazon, Google Compute Engine and now Windows Azure, MacDonald explained.

"So if you look today at our growth in Amazon you can see almost 60 to 80 percent, depending on the kind of sources you use, are running on Amazon on Ubuntu today," MacDonald said. "That's a very large market share that we enjoy in the public clouds that exist. And that was one of the reasons why partnering with Microsoft on Azure was important to us and was very important to Microsoft."

Canonical maintains Ubuntu Server images and provides updates via its Simple Stream technology, which delivers the most recent releases. Support is provided by Canonical. The next version, Ubuntu Server 13.10, known as "Saucy Salamander," will be expected to arrive in October 2013, MacDonald said.

Juju, as an automation and workload provisioning tool for Ubuntu Server and other Linux distros, can be used to set up complex distributed applications and environments in the cloud, but it also can work with things as simple as WordPress.

"As many have learned in the cloud, when you deploy a WordPress instance, it can become very popular, and scaling that WordPress instance can be quite a headache," MacDonald said, adding that "Juju can help with scale."

Open Source Collaboration
Microsoft and the Linux community have often been at odds in the past, although Microsoft has made some recent strides on the interoperability front with its Open Technologies Inc. spinoff. MacDonald had nothing but praise for Canonical's collaboration with Microsoft, which has been ongoing for almost two years.

"Microsoft has been an incredibly great partner for Canonical to work with," MacDonald said. "[They have been] incredibly supportive, very forward thinking in terms of really building a cloud business. I think the recognition that other workloads run in the cloud kind of was a critical part of their calculus and a critical part of their decision making."

To better share best practices using Juju, Canonical is sponsoring a Charm Championship contest, with a total of $60,000 in prize money. MacDonald said that the Charms let experts code and formalize the best way to deploy workloads, and these Charms can be shared, so Canonical envisions the Charm Championship as a way to help community developers. Typical users of Juju range from enterprises to Web-scale startups, he added.

Canonical's annual "Server and Cloud Survey" found that 24 percent of 5,800 Ubuntu users were using Puppet for services orchestration, while 16 percent were using the newer Juju tool. The survey also found that 59 percent of respondents are currently using the cloud in production environments, with most (41 percent) using private clouds. OpenStack was the favored private cloud infrastructure of the respondents at 42 percent, according to the survey.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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