If I were Red Hat I would be looking over my shoulder right now; it appears that Ubuntu might be gaining. In just a few years the Linux distribution has gone from being non-existent in the enterprise to being a powerhouse. This is especially true in the cloud, where it's a dominant force on both sides of the aisle. Not only is it the most deployed operating system on public clouds, its version of OpenStack accounts for over half of OpenStack cloud deployments, used by the likes of Deutsche Telekom, Bloomberg and Time Warner Cable.
The use of its cloud platform is likely to escalate now that IBM and Ubuntu's parent company, Canonical, have formed a partnership that brings Ubuntu OpenStack to Big Blue's metal. According to an announcement released September 19 by Ubuntu, its implementation of the open source cloud platform is now available to run on the entire line of IBM servers.
IBM's LinuxONE and z Systems mainframes already ran Red Hat, SUSE and Ubuntu, with a stack that included Apache Spark, Node.js, MongoDB, MariaDB, PostgreSQL and Chef. But this new announcement means that IBM's big iron now comes with the same OpenStack functionality as is available on commodity servers.
"IBM and Canonical have been working together to ensure that z Systems, LinuxONE, Power Systems and OpenPOWER customers can have the same Ubuntu usage and management experience that Ubuntu x86 production OpenStack customers have today," Ubuntu's announcement read.
Canonical's quick rise to the top in enterprise open source has been due to a combination of smart partnerships and by investing in research and development. For example, it has partnered with Microsoft on a number of projects, most notably to bring the bash shell to Windows, and its work with Dell has resulted in the XPS Developer Edition Ubuntu laptops, which have been well received by developers and admins.
To bring OpenStack to IBM's mainframes, it relied on help from its Boston-based OpenStack Interoperability Lab (Ubuntu claims it's the largest such lab on the planet), which validates OpenStack interoperability across a variety of hardware and software combinations.
Ubuntu's OpenStack on Big Blue iron should also be good for IBM, which continues to invest heavily in Linux and seems to be moving away from AIX, its proprietary Unix operating system. Both its LinuxONE line, which was introduced last year, and the new OpenPOWER LC servers due out soon, are designed only for Linux.