Canonical ARMs Ubuntu Linux Server Management Landscape

Linux vendor Canonical improves its systems management solution with hyperscale server capabilities.

Canonical is updating its Landscape Ubuntu server management solution today, providing enterprises with the ability to manage both x86- and ARM-based hyperscale server environments. Landscape, a closed-source offering from Canonical, is available as both a hosted service as well as an on-site dedicated server version.

The Landscape 13.09 update's key new feature is support for ARM-based servers,
Mark Baker, Ubuntu’s server product manager, told eWEEK.

To date, Landscape has been focused on x86 based systems, but Ubuntu is no stranger to the ARM world. Ubuntu's founder Mark Shuttleworth was a key participant in the original launch of the Calxeda ARM architecture in 2011. Additionally, Ubuntu has been enabled to run on ARM-based systems since that time.

The prospects for ARM aren't just hypothetical future deployments, either. Calxeda-based systems running Ubuntu Linux are going into financial services institutions already, Baker said.

Additionally, Hewlett-Packard is building Calxeda ARM-based servers as part of its Moonshot hyperscale server effort. HP last week announced that it would also be enabling Intel's next-generation Atom Avoton C2000 ship on Moonshot, as well.

The new Landscape server management update would also provide support for the new Atom, Baker said.

The new Landscape 13.09 update is one of the first big updates to the Landscape platform since its 12.09 update last year.

In addition to the new ARM support, the new Landscape release also closes gaps between the hosted and on-site dedicated Landscape server releases, Federico Lucifredi, Landscape product manager at Canonical, told eWEEK. "We can re-align what is on the SaaS [software-as-a-service] version with the latest dedicated service release," Lucifredi said.

One such feature alignment is with audit log capabilities that are available in the hosted SaaS version of Landscape and not on the dedicated server. The goal, according to Lucifredi, is to make sure that the feature set is balanced and identical for both versions of Landscape.

Managing ARM

Managing both ARM and x86 Ubuntu Linux servers from Landscape is unlikely to be challenging, Lucifredi said. "Ubuntu tends to be quite uniform across different architectures," he said. "It's quite easy from Landscape to support different architectures with a single set of system management tools."

That doesn't mean that there aren't differences between Linux on x86 versus ARM. There are some differences with tools, as ARM doesn't yet support some of the same standards that x86 does, Lucifredi said. One such difference comes in the area of hardware inventory, for which ARM is not able to return the same information as an x86 based system, yet. Overall, Lucifredi said, the differences are few and, in general, management is quite uniform across both x86 and ARM.

"Systems management is a fairly evolved space, but there are always new iterations of old challenges," Lucifredi said.

One of those old challenges is that of scale. Over time, there is always an increasing new scale to support more systems, and with the rush to the cloud, that is a challenge for many enterprises today.

"Scale is an area where we have invested considerably in Landscape; currently, we can support 8,000 devices from a single Landscape-dedicated server," Lucifredi said. "Another challenge we're meeting is complexity, which is always increasing."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.