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Everyone Can Have a New "Datacenter" Right Now, Even You!

A (new) datacenter? Me? Really? Why would I want that?

Answer 1: Because if you're an individual, you have problems to solve that cannot be solved by consuming one more app from a store.

Answer 2: Because if you're a company, you have problems to solve that cannot be solved economically (if at all) by your current datacenter, which is probably out-moded, out-dated, and brittle.

Recently, I've been having discussions with people who follow tech (but who don't make it a full-time job) and one thing I've been hearing and sensing is that a lot of people don't quite get "cloud" and "OpenStack". I could even add Open Source to this list, but I'll save that for later.) This is not a slam, or a criticism of them. It's an observation, and it's a shame that it's this way.

These are bright people with real work they need to get done and real problems they would like to solve. They need to get on with things without additional cognitive load and with minimal expense. But, when they hear the constant drone of cloud jargon, their eyes glaze over and when they see that complexity they think they'll need a small army of consultants to help.

In the spirit of "Amplify(ing) the Signal" (my blog's title), what is the source of this noise and how can we filter it out to find the information, the signal?

The noise: I mostly blame the tech (marketing) industry for creating and perpetuating confusion and thinking that's acceptable behaviour. With a few exceptions, this is an industry that makes no attempt to simplify technical jargon and to describe solutions in easy and obvious ways. To do so would be to allow people to get on with their lives and simply "get things done". Horror of horrors!

But in this often "messy" world, there are a few beacons and heroes; people that are really trying to make the world better and to bring technology to everyone, without bias or prejudice.

This is exactly what initially attracted me to Ubuntu. Ubuntu brought the promise of free and open computing to me. With Ubuntu, I didn't need to spend hours or days configuring kernel this and driver that and typing gobbledegook on command lines. I simply popped in a CD, and was on my way.

Eleven years later, and Ubuntu has done it again. Allow me to present the signal.

Computers are no longer just your laptop, your desktop, your phone, tablet, or gadget. Computers are now collections of machines that are interconnected. Software is no longer an "app" that runs on your device. Software is a collection of programs that run on many computers, some of which you touch and hold and own and many of which you don't. Take your blog for instance. It's likely running on someone else's machines and consists of at least a front end (content management system), a database, and maybe some load balancing.

    Cloud: A collection of computers that you don't own or manage and that you control by issuing simple commands. In return, it provides computing services to you.

Sounds a bit like what we called a datacenter years ago, right? That's because it is. But, it's an improved datacenter. Simpler, more reliable, more scalable, more versatile, and much cheaper. These new datacenters are capable of running modern software. These datacenters can be in your home, your garage, your company, or in a building somewhere else in your city, or a faraway place. The can be in a combination of more than one of these places.

    OpenStack: A popular "flavour" of cloud computing that is free, open, and available to all.

We have reached a point in history where it is now possible for you to have a solution to your problem in your own datacenter that is based on an OpenStack cloud. If someone has already installed servers for you, then you can have your solution ready to go in less than 30 minutes.

Please watch Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Ubuntu, show you how it's done.

It's worth watching the whole video, but if you only have a few minutes, then watch it from the point below where Mark sets up a blog hosted on an OpenStack cloud in less than one minute, with Juju.


If you have a little more time, then watch Mark demo how to build an OpenStack cloud in minutes, not in hours or days, with Autopilot.

Welcome to a simpler, more cost-effective, and more interesting tech world. I hope you will use these free and open technologies to get on with solving problems and making the world a better place.

And, I hope you will reject those in the tech industry that insist on keeping things difficult, confusing, and expensive. Or, as Mark would say...

No headcount, no consultants, no problem.

Ubuntu at Mobile World Congress 2015

Ubuntu was in "full force" at this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week.

I was very happy to see the awesome booth we had, (which helped offset my disappointment about not being there. Hopefully next year ;)

Check this out!

What I always enjoy about booth duty at conferences is that moment when people walk up to our booth and say "Hey, I've been enjoying Ubuntu on my laptop for years. It's amazing! Thank you for working on it." It's encouraging and makes up for those days "in the salt mine" when I feel we have so far to go before Ubuntu, Juju, MAAS, Landscape, Snappy Core, and many more become household words.

If you dropped by the booth or just walked by it casually, I'd be interested in what you saw, what you liked, what you wish you would have seen, any impressions of the show...

And, to provide an example, here's what one booth visitor had to say:

    "And, for the record, the entire team at the stand were beyond amazing. Incredible, lovely, talented people with amazing knowledge. The new phones and OS are excellent. it nearly killed me that I couldn't buy one immediately. Keep your eyes on BQ.com for their flash sales on handsets. The basic model is excellent and amazing for the money, the premium model will be available in a few months and is a larger, sleeker device. I'd flash my device to the OS today if I could, but I'll wait until I can buy the real thing. A flash sale is about a week away, and one week per month at the moment. It's a handheld, fully functional version of Ubuntu which operates in a really impressive touch mode normally, and seamlessly switches to full desktop mode with the connection of a bluetooth mouse / keyboard. I am in love."

(see http://www.reddit.com/r/Ubuntu/comments/2xto6a/i_was_at_the_canonical_st...)

Were you there? Please share your story in the comments or email me at randall (at) ubuntu (dot) com

On Writing Software for OpenPOWER

We live in exciting times!

Not only do we now have an Ubuntu Phone, but we also have Ubuntu running quite nicely on the OpenPOWER platform (which is based on the POWER8 architecture).

You might be thinking "So, where are you going with this?" I'm glad you asked :)

In just a couple weeks, the very first OpenPOWER Summit will start. Everyone who's involved in the OpenPOWER community will be making the trek to sunny San Jose, CA. If you're writing (or thinking about writing) software that is targeted for the OpenPOWER platform, then you'd be crazy *not* to be there!

During the OpenPOWER Summit, the fun folks that bring you Ubuntu will be hosting a session entitled the "ISV Roundtable". This session is designed to connect people who have great ideas that would benefit from OpenPOWER to the people who can help make them reality.

Are you thinking of writing, tuning, or porting (it's super easy) software to benefit from OpenPOWER? This is the session for you.

Are you looking for the "next big thing"? You've found it.

I'd love to see you there!

Contact randall (at) ubuntu (dot) com

What Does Getting Thrashed Feel Like?

Ubuntu runs on POWER8. That's likely not news to many of you. But what hopefully is news, is that you're not allowed to say "So what?" any more. (Call it "Randall's Rule of POWER"). By doing so, you discount that which can power the future.

Remember the future?

I recently stumbled on a fresh analysis of IBM POWER8 vs "something else". Here's what stood out, and what one author has called a "thrashing":

POWER8 offers:

  • 8 threads per core (compared to 2)
  • twice the amount of L2 Cache memory per core
  • almost twice as much L3 Cache
  • a L4 Cache using buffer chips (compared to no L4 cache)
  • much higher clock speeds
  • 12 sockets for Coherent SMP (compared to 2)
  • 8 core systems at less than 50% the cost of "something else" having 12 cores.
  • 12 core systems at around 70% of the cost "something else" having 18 cores

You can read the whole article here, for free: https://www.business-cloud.com/articles/news/ibm-power8-thrashes-intel-xeon

If you're a developer, you might be excited by these specs. Get your code executing as fast as possible (but no faster.)

And if you're not a developer then maybe you'd be excited to run your business (or your institution, or your organization) on hardware that's cheaper, faster, and more future-oriented.

Future is now! Check out and join OpenPOWER to get involved. http://openpowerfoundation.org/2015-summit/

Image CC BY-SA 2.0 by Torley, https://www.flickr.com/photos/torley

Are You Bullish on OpenPOWER?

Earlier, I blogged about my belief that OpenPOWER represents the next big disruption in the server space. Turns out I'm not alone. Check out what another author has to say:

    "My personal belief is probably obvious, and I believe this has an excellent chance of success, and is the greatest threat to Intel and x86 in the server space. The technology is excellent, the degree of freedom partners have extraordinary and the partners strong and well-respected. We should also consider the importance of China, and IBM's partnerships there. While there's no such thing as a sure thing, this comes pretty close for me; the argument for it is compelling on so many levels."

The rest of the article is here, and it's worth a read:

The Future is Open, and It's POWERful

Are you content with the status quo in technology? I'm not.

Years ago, I became aware of this little known (at the time) project called "Ubuntu". Remember it?

I don't know about you, but once I discovered Ubuntu and became involved I was so excited about the future it proposed that I never looked back.

Aside from Ubuntu's "approachable by everyone" and "free forever" project DNA, one of the things that really attracted me to it was that it had the guts to take on the status quo. I believed (and I still believe) that the status quo needs a good disruption. Complacency and doing things "as they always have been" just plain hurts.

In those days, the status quo was proprietary software and well-meaning but inpenetrable (to the everyday person that just wanted to get things done) free and open source software. I'm happy that we've collectively solved the toughest parts of those problems. Sure, there are still issues to be resolved but as they say, that's mostly detail.

Fast forward to today. Now, we are faced with a hosting (or call it cloud infrastructure if you wish) hardware landscape that is nearly a perfect monopoly and is so tightly locked down that we can't solve the world's big problems.

Spotting an opportunity to create something better and to change the world, a bunch of people rallied together to create

Click to learn more!Click to learn more!

Not surprisingly, Ubuntu joined and became a partner early on. And today, another one of the most famous disruptors has joined: Rackspace. In their words,

"In the world of servers, it’s getting harder and more costly to deliver the generational performance and efficiency gains that we used to take for granted. There are increasing limitations in both the basic materials we use, and the way we design and integrate our systems."

So here we are. Ubuntu, Rackspace, and dozens of others poised once again to disrupt.

It's going to be an interesting and fun ride. 2015 is poised to be the year that the world woke up to the true power of open.

I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too. Please join us!

Make Charm Debugging Easier, with DHX

Juju makes things really simple.

But, like you, I'm not content to stop at simple. I'm always looking for ways to make things even simpler so that I have more time to work on tough problems (e.g. spreading Ubuntu in my city.)

Today my colleague Corey Johns pointed me to DHX, a cool plugin for Juju that he developed. Even simpler!

I hope you find this useful.

Click to learn more!Click to learn more!

And please remember to thank Corey for his excellent work.


A while back, as part of my new role, I began looking for opportunities to:

  1. Challenge the status quo, and,
  2. Connect people together that want to solve big problems.

(Luckily, the two are closely related.)

Recently, I was introduced to some fine folks at SiteOx in Franklin, TN (that's just outside of Memphis) that happen to have some really fast POWER8 systems that provide infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS).

I mentioned that previously unknown tidbit to some of my colleagues (who are are awesome Juju Charmers) to see if/how the service could be used to speed Juju Charm development.

As it turns out, it can! In case you missed it, Matt Bruzek of Juju Charmer fame, figured it all out and then wrote a concise guide to do just that. Check it out here, and then...

Click the button to feel the POWER!Click the button to feel the POWER!

Thanks Matt, and thanks SiteOx.

Ubuntu Online Summit: Solving Big (Data) Problems With Juju

Amir Sanjar, our resident and charming big data guy, spoke to all humans today in his "Big Data and Juju" session.

Highlights? Why not?

  • We're generating data with everything we do.
  • The landscape of solutions is complex and becoming more so.
  • Juju vastly simplifies the deployment of big data solutions.
  • Juju extends the sidewalk of solutions, i.e. you can connect other (non-big-data) charms to your solution.
  • Amir presented a big data Charms status report and roadmap.
  • We need more help, especially charmers, to create solutions for missing pieces of the big data puzzle

Would you like to help solve big (data) problems? The team would love to hear from you.

You can reach out to Amir on his Launchpad page, https://launchpad.net/~asanjar or join the discussion on the Juju mailing list.

You can also contact me. (Consider me your concierge.) I can be reached at randall AT ubuntu DOT com

Check out the whole session here:



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It's All In The Name

Back in the dark days of computing (pre Ubuntu), people were referred to as "users" to essentially frame the industry into a small group that was in a position of power and privilege and one that was not. The vast numbers of unprivileged people could only consume or use. Great for industry and profit, but poor for creating an inclusive society.

I found this photo on a photo sharing service and it is evidently a photo of a user.

Note that when we call people that enjoy Ubuntu's products users, we run the risk of putting them in the same negative box. Why do some people insist on calling people that enjoy computers and technology "users"?

I'm sorry but people who enjoy and run Ubuntu are not "users". We're past that. It's over. Did you come from a proprietary technology company that called people users? You're past that. It's over.

Can we as a community agree to drop the term? It's predatory.

Here are some suggestions for replacement words:

  • Human
  • Person
  • Man
  • Woman
  • Fan

Try something like this:
"A person that enjoys Ubuntu."
"A human that runs Ubuntu."
"A fan of Ubuntu."



Image by nosferatu9000

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