Ubuntu Server 13.04 is available for download. Canonical, which works with the open-source community to support Ubuntu worldwide (making money off support offerings), is positioning the server as the ideal platform for OpenStack, an open-source Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) used by many companies to build out their cloud services and architecture.
To that end, Canonical claims that Ubuntu Server 13.04 is the only OpenStack distribution that makes high-availability (HA) a standard feature. Canonical’s alliance with VMware comes into play here, giving those companies utilize OpenStack clouds within their existing VMware deployments (such as VMware vSphere and Nicira NVP). This latest update also includes “enhancements” to the Juju orchestration GUI, allowing developers to better see the relationships between workloads and services running on various clouds (and thus better wrangle the massive amounts of data within those ecosystems).
OpenStack has enjoyed a significant degree of uptake by larger enterprises such as IBM and Dell, which plan to use the technology in their cloud offerings. Earlier in April, a group of companies—including Hortonworks, Red Hat, and Mirantis—announced the launch of an ambitious effort codenamed Project Savanna, which will seek to join OpenStack with Apache Hadoop, an increasingly popular open-source framework for crunching large amounts of data.
Ubuntu: OS Contender?
Over the past few months, Canonical has been busy releasing Ubuntu for a variety of devices. First came an Ubuntu smartphone operating system, followed a short time later by an Ubuntu tablet OS targeted at large touch-screens. Simultaneous with the release of Ubuntu Server 13.04, the company issued Ubuntu 13.04 on the desktop, which includes a Developer Preview SDK for building native applications for Ubuntu devices.
Such developments beg the question of whether Ubuntu can become a major player in the operating-system arena, which is currently dominated by Microsoft. While that would prove a difficult goal for Canonical and its developer ecosystem, there are signs of a possible paradigm shift underway in what was long a relatively stagnant industry: Mac OS X has gained market-share over the past few years, driven in large part by the burgeoning popularity of the Apple brand, while Google’s hardware partners have issued laptops loaded with the search engine giant’s Chrome OS.
That’s not to say that Windows will be toppled as the world’s most-used PC operating system anytime soon—but the increasing prominence of alternate operating systems does give Ubuntu a little bit of an opening to increase its presence. In the mobile-device market, Ubuntu faces some strong competition from Android and iOS—not to mention BlackBerry and Microsoft, both of which want at least a small slice of that particular pie.