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Canonical Unveils Metal-as-a-Service Server Provisioning Tool

Canonical has lifted the lid on its new baby, a "Metal-as-a-service" tool (MAAS) which offers the provisioning and management of servers, on top of which a cloud can be deployed.

In a blog post (opens in new tab), founder Mark Shuttleworth said that MAAS is set to bring agility back to hyper-scale deployments. Whereas servers used to be big and powerful, Shuttleworth noted, in the hyper-scale era more power can be added not via beefier nodes, but simply by adding more nodes to clusters.

Shuttleworth wrote: "We can increase reliability by doubling up, so services keep running when individual nodes fail. Much as RAID changed the storage game, this scale-out philosophy, pioneered by Google, is changing the server landscape."

"In this hyperscale era, each individual node is cheap, wimpy and, by historical standards for critical computing, unreliable. But together, they're unstoppable. The horsepower now resides in the cluster, not the node."

The catch, he argues, is that provisioning and management costs must be economical, and that's where MAAS comes in to keep the process streamlined. MAAS facilitates the easy setup of the hardware you wish to deploy your cloud or other service on, allowing for simple and dynamic scaling. It enables the provision of servers dynamically, just like cloud instances, but adding whole new physical nodes.

Canonical's plan is to hook MAAS up with Juju, the next-gen orchestration framework, to manage hyper-scale data centres.

Shuttleworth concludes: "As we enter an era in which ATOM is as important in the data centre as XEON, an operating system like Ubuntu makes even more sense. Its freedom from licensing restrictions, together with the labour saving power of tools like MAAS, make it cost-effective, finally, to deploy and manage hundreds of nodes at a time."

"Here's another way to look at it: Ubuntu is bringing cloud semantics to the bare metal world. What a great foundation for your IAAS."

Source: PC World (opens in new tab)

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.