At the OpenStack Summit in Hong Kong this week, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth (pictured) said the next major release of Ubuntu will provide an integrated OpenStack-hosted PaaS based on Cloud Foundry.
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"It's important for us to signal who we think is in the lead‚" he said.
Since Ubuntu is the base operating system for 80% of OpenStack clouds today, the move is likely to bolster Cloud Foundry's position as the leading OpenStack PaaS, to the detriment of rivals such as Rackspace's recently announced Solum.
But Shuttleworth stressed that, in true open source spirit, Ubuntu would continue to support other OpenStack PaaS solutions.
"Innovation comes from diversity and we want to enable an ecosystem that is diverse and competitive‚" he said.
The company also promised to work with other OpenStack providers to ensure Cloud Foundry would work seamlessly with their offerings, although it is uncertain how many competitors will be keen to take up its offer.
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During his summit keynote speech, Shuttleworth also demonstrated how easy it was to build and implement open source-based clouds using Ubuntu's service orchestration tool Juju. This allows developers to plug together different providers' components visually (including hardware, hypervisors, storage and networking) into scalable, instantly deployable cloud solutions.
The integration of Cloud Foundry into this ecosystem will provide a significant shot in the arm for OpenStack-based PaaS, and the announcement spurred a flurry of excited tweets from developers.
Analysts, too, have welcomed the move. Clive Longbottom, founder and service director of Quocirca, believes both OpenStack and user organisations will benefit.
"Anything that provides more 'oomph' to OpenStack is a good thing. Users need a cloud platform that enables them to run a transparent hybrid private/public cloud system. If Ubuntu does this well, then not only will it give a boost to OpenStack, but organisations will be able to make use of the Linux skills they've already built up.
If Ubuntu gives this capability to the open source world, then we could see general adoption and greater transportability of cloud-based workloads‚" said Longbottom.
But it is too early to declare a winner in the OpenStack PaaS stakes.
"Every year there seems to be a glowing hope about PaaS, but few of the offerings we've seen have caught on in a major way," said Michael Cot, research director for infrastructure software at 451 Research.
"Cloud Foundry, at least, has been intellectually open enough to pass muster with developers who want lots of customisations to their development stack. However, in the OpenStack world I'd expect to see a lot of different PaaS integrations," he said.