Canonical, Autonomic to Offer Cloud-Ready Dell Servers to Federal Agencies

Canonical and Autonomic Resources are teaming up to offer Dell Blade servers preinstalled with the Eucalyptus-based Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud to the federal government to speed up cloud deployments.

Canonical and Autonomic Resources announced an integrated cloud computing platform for use in the federal government.

The ARC-P-UEC consists of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud and Dell Blade servers, Autonomic said. The combined offering allows "budget-restricted" government agencies to invest in large-scale and efficient cloud computing deployments, Autonomic said.

"We are delighted that the benefits of open-source based cloud computing technology is now available to U.S. government agencies," said Neil Levine, vice president of corporate services at Canonical.

UEC is based on Eucalyptus, an open-source cloud operating system with built-in support for Amazon EC2 APIs. A cloud computing provider for the federal government, Autonomic has used UEC for private cloud deployments in the private sector, the company said.

ARC-P-UEC comes bundled with Canonical's Ubuntu Advantage support service for servers and clouds, which gives access to telephone support as well as the "Landscape" system management platform. Government IT managers are spared from installation headaches because UEC is preinstalled on Dell servers as a "turnkey solution," Levine said.

Canonical has been busy with a number of cloud partnerships recently. Less than a week ago, Canonical announced cloud-ready servers with UEC preinstalled on Dell PowerEdge C2100 and C6100 servers. Canonical publicly announced it will support OpenStack, another open-source cloud operating system backed by Rackspace and NASA in the next version of Ubuntu Server, expected in April.

Canonical will also announce another set of cloud-ready servers with OpenStack preinstalled on Dell PowerEdge C6100 servers, Barton George, cloud computing and scale-out evangelist at Dell's Data Center Solutions division, told eWEEK.

The federal government's new "Cloud First" policy requires federal IT staff to consider cloud computing when planning their IT projects, said John Keese, Autonomic's president. "Our offering is meant to make cloud adoption friction free and straight forward," he said.

United States CIO Vivek Kundra announced the "Cloud First" policy in December to encourage federal government agencies to cut costs and make IT operations more efficient by deploying cloud applications. Kundra specified that all agencies must move at least one system to a hosted environment in 2011. The Department of Treasury moved its Website to Amazon EC2 early in January.

Autonomic Resources is selling a certified UEC bundle on Dell Blade servers through the U.S. General Services Administration 70 supply contract, the company said. It is priced as a "fully racked and baseline configured private cloud" that can be "rolled in" to the data center, Keese said.

The ARC-P offers rapid private or hybrid cloud adoption for agencies, said Keese.

Autonomic is just one of the several cloud service providers working with the federal government. Software-as-a-service provider Enviance has been working with the United States Army in a "deep" cloud pilot since 2005, Larry Goldenhersh, Enviance CEO, told eWEEK. The pilot rolled out a number of environmental compliance projects, including greenhouse gas emissions and waste management, across all commands in the army, he said.

Commercially available cloud-based computing products work just as well within the federal government, Goldenhersh said. The Army is a "shining example" of that, as it connects to the same Enviance system that is used by DuPont, another customer, Goldenhersh said. Federal agencies no longer have to build custom software or launch highly customized applications, he said. "Vivek Kundra wants to end customized development in the government," Goldenhersh said.