More evidence that the Linux wars have moved to OpenStack

It’s sort of funny that the press release announcing the new Ubuntu Linux 14.04 LTS release seems as focused on Ubuntu OpenStack as on Linux per se. It’s studded with partner testimonials from Cisco(s csco), Mellanox(s mlnx), NTT Software, Brocade(s brcd) lauding Ubuntu OpenStack. But then again, that makes sense given that the vendor battlefield has shifted from core operating system to core cloud infrastructure, where Canonical OpenStack has gained traction with Hewlett Packard(s hpq) and other big cloud providers.
Not surprisingly, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, (pictured above) who bankrolled then nurtured Ubuntu Linux from the cradle, is promoting the Ubuntu Linux/Ubuntu OpenStack tandem as the best foundation of next-gen clouds.
An OpenStack Foundation survey from October found that 55 percent of OpenStack workloads use Ubuntu Linux as the host OS, compared to 24 percent for CentOS; 10 percent for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and 10 percent “other.” Given Red Hat’s increased focus on OpenStack, it won’t be content to let those numbers stand. As Gigaom has reported, many in the OpenStack community do not want Red Hat to dominate that effort as it has done with enterprise Linux. Stay tuned for more on this soon: Red Hat CEO Paul Cormier is slated to talk about the company’s cloud vision later Tuesday at the And, as anticipated, there was some news from the Red Hat Summit as well with Red Hat announcing enterprise OpenStack adoption by the Broad Institute, Midokura and the University of Porto.
And we’ll discuss the shifting and uneasy alliances and partnerships in the cloud ecosystem at Gigaom’s Structure show in June.

Adding Power to the mix

But back to the new Ubuntu Linux. The 14.04 release, to be generally available April 17, supports X86, ARM-64 and now Power chips, the first commercially-supported OS to support all three, Shuttleworth claimed. “That means no matter what chip architecture you have, you’ll get the same level of service and portfolio of apps running at scale.”
The Power support was somewhat surprising, but Canonical’s move seems to validate IBM’s decision last August to open up the Power ecosystem via a new OpenPower Foundation, in hopes that someone other than IBM might want to build Power-based servers. In that quest it got some pretty big names — including Google(s goog), Mellanox(s mlnx), Tyan — to sign on.
“Power has a legendary rep of IBM’s making and what interested us is the shift to the OpenPower Foundation,” Shuttleworth said. “Our focus is scale. We aren’t aiming to be a better Solaris. We don’t care if you have 16 sockets on a machine, what interests us is you having 8,000 machines. Power in the form of OpenPower we think is interesting for very large data centers taking on very large problems — analytics and so on and because most of those problems are defined by open source in the form of OpenStack and Hadoop.”
“Now we can give as good performance on Power as on any other architecture, so when IBM asked us to take our unofficial port of Power to make it official, we did,” he said.

Contention shifts from OS to cloud

Not to beat the battlefield analogy into the ground, but it’s clear that most of the big tech vendors except for Microsoft(s msft) and Amazon Web Services, are banking on OpenStack to provide their cloud foundation. Red Hat hopes to replicate its success in enterprise Linux in the cloud — one reason it finally made nice with CentOS, the Red Hat Linux clone, in order to better focus on OpenStack.
But other Linux/OpenStack players desperately want to forestall that possibility  — hence Canonical’s well-timed OpenStack-inflected Linux press release.
This story was updated at 11:38 a.m. with news about new Red Hat enterprise Openstack customers.