Canonical Moves Systems Management in From the Cloud

While there is a mad rush toward putting more IT resources in the cloud, not
everything belongs in the cloud — just ask Ubuntu Linux vendor
Canonical.

The Canonical Landscape Ubuntu systems management server is now moving in from the
cloud with a new dedicated, on-site offering. Previously, the Landscape service was only
available as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), cloud-based model. The new Landscape
Dedicated Server expands the commercial support offerings available for Ubuntu Linux as
Canonical ramps up its efforts to gain market share against rivals.

“Canonical’s Landscape Dedicated Server is a software appliance that is installed on
the users’ hardware. Updates will be made available by download on an as-needed basis
when major kernel/security patches become available,” Ken Drachnik, Landscape manager at
Canonical, told InternetNews.com. “Of course, this points out one of the major
differences between the Hosted edition and Dedicated edition — users will need to
provide hardware and a trained resource to manage Landscape on-site.”

As opposed to Ubuntu Linux, which is freely available and open source, Landscape as a
complete service is neither free nor open source. The Landscape client is open source and
available on open source hosting site Launchpad, but the server code is proprietary.

Rival Linux distribution Red Hat, meanwhile, is currently in the process of fully open
sourcing its Red Hat
Network Satellite product
for Red Hat Linux systems management.

Drachnik noted that Canonical has had some discussions about open sourcing all of
Landscape, but it’s not in the company’s near-term plans.

That’s partially because Canonical does not require Landscape users to also subscribe
to support services for Ubuntu desktop or server operating systems.

“We provide Ubuntu and all the patches for free so we charge for the Landscape
service, which automates the patching of servers,” Drachnik said. “Other Linux distros
charge a subscription fee for access to patches, and in that business model, they can
provide the software for free because their business model is predicated on charging for
security updates.”

“Landscape is a service that provides additional value to the services offered by
Canonical,” he added. “Many users choose to not have support contracts on their systems
initially and just buy the Landscape service. There is no requirement that a system be
under a support contract to use Landscape.”

There is, however a cost associated with Landscape as an on-site installation, which
involves a support contract for the Landscape service itself.

Drachnik said that list pricing is $8,000 for the Landscape Dedicated Server, with an
annual subscription cost of $150 per node. He added that installation for small systems
can be done remotely or on-site, and is roughly $2,000. In addition, a support contract
on the systems running Landscape is required, which lists for $2,750 per system for
enterprise 24 x 7 coverage.

Cloud vs. on-site

The idea behind having a dedicated on site Landscape server is all about choice and
control for the enterprise deployment, the company said, and there’s no difference
between the two from a functionality standpoint.

“A single Landscape account can manage any Ubuntu instance — physical, virtual or
cloud-based,” Drachnik said. “The Hosted and Dedicated Server architectures both offer
this same functionality.”

“Today, Landscape can manage both your physical instances and Amazon EC2 instances
from the same console window,” he added.

Though there may be no functional difference between the cloud and on-site Landscape
servers, there have been some technical issues that Canonical has had to work through.
Drachnik said that because Landscape has been a live service from Canonical for several
years, the service is well tested.

“Landscape has been in beta testing with a number of customers — enterprises,
Universities and ISPs — to exercise the product and help us understand how it will be
used in a variety of environments,” Drachnik said. “Probably the most learning we have
had is in understanding the various authentication mechanisms and password syntax these
different users use internally.”

What’s next? Read the rest at InternetNews.com.

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