2013: a year of innovation, interoperability and convergence

Following our post about the next decade of innovation, we thought now would be a good time to look back at 2013, a year that saw huge strides toward two of our biggest goals: cloud interoperability and OS convergence.

First and foremost, creating the best freely available software continued to be a primary goal over the last year. In line with our regular cadence, in April we released Ubuntu 13.04, which included many new features. Perhaps most notable on the cloud side, it included improved ability to handle hyperscale server and cloud environments – an essential upgrade as enterprises continue to move demanding workloads to the cloud. In fact, this year’s Ubuntu Server and Cloud Survey revealed just how important this is to our users, 55 percent of whom already have mission critical workloads running in the cloud.

As Ubuntu is one of the most popular OSes in the cloud and is the infrastructure for so many workloads in the cloud today, it seemed only appropriate that our CEO, Jane Silber, was asked to speak at last year’s Cloud Expo West on “Opening Up the Cloud for Real Business Value.” Focusing on open source benefits including flexibility, interoperability and cost-effectiveness, Jane explained how businesses can make the most of their cloud investments using OpenStack and open clouds more generally.

While events provided a great way for us to showcase the benefits of open clouds, they also served as a platform to announce exciting updates. Mark Shuttleworth announced the new Juju Charm browser and GUI experience at OSCON, which makes Juju easier to use than ever. Additionally, at the OpenStack Summit in Portland, Mark demonstrated how far OpenStack functionality has come, performing live updates without service interruption using  the Landscape systems management tool. Then, at OpenStack Hong Kong Mark took to the stage to introduce Ubuntu’s work with Cloud Foundry and demonstrate how Ubuntu can not only quickly deploy and manage OpenStack clouds, but it can deploy an manage OpenStack clouds that use a diverse range technologies for compute, storage and networking. And, while cloud remained a focus at events throughout the year, Mark emphasised the importance of mobile and convergence to our vision, most recently at Le Web conference in Paris.

The momentum continued full force with the launch of the ambitious $32 million Indiegogo Ubuntu Edge campaign. While the record-breaking campaign didn’t reach our high target, it did serve as a conceptual proof point and we’re now partnering with leading smartphone suppliers to bring a fully-fledged Ubuntu phone to market in 2014. Ubuntu Edge’s message opened users’ eyes to the possibilities of mobile convergence, where the phone would act as one driver for all personal computing needs.

Moving toward convergence

Then things got Saucy. In October, we unveiled Ubuntu 13.10, also known as Saucy Salamander, coinciding with the new OpenStack Havana release. Focusing on time to production, including a complete set of tools to deploy production-ready clouds, the latest release also offers improvements to the workload service orchestration tool, Juju. In addition, 13.10’s upgrades to desktop and mobile provide greater cross platform flexibility, bringing us closer than ever to our ultimate goal of total convergence.

As seen in the recent 13.10 release, Ubuntu is able to deliver the flexibility central to achieving interoperability, which we feel is key to the future of cloud computing in enterprises. That being said, to successfully achieve interoperability, testing various hardware and software platforms to understand how they perform together is important. To address this, we recently created the Ubuntu OpenStack Interoperability Lab (OIL), working with partners like Dell, EMC, IBM, Inktank/Ceph and VMware to test and validate the integration, development and interoperability of hardware and software using Ubuntu OpenStack. At present Ubuntu OIL is running over 500 test permutations per week using different hardware and software combinations. This shows some of the challenges in delivering a high quality OpenStack distribution that mets the needs of a diverse customer set but with Ubuntu OIL, we are well on our way toward providing enterprises the ease and flexibility they require when deploying applications and workloads to the cloud.

With 75 percent of our Server and Cloud Survey participants stating they have near-term plans to deploy more Ubuntu servers, the future is bright and we look forward to continuing to bring disruption to the cloud in 2014.