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04 April 2012, 17:08

Ubuntu 12.04 to come with MAAS driver

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Zoom MAAS's web interface makes it simple to dynamically allocate machines to a task
Source: Mark Shuttleworth
Mark Shuttleworth has announced MAAS, Metal-as-a-Service, a tool for "hyperscale" deployments. The idea behind MAAS is that, as data centres move towards thousands of lower-power processor nodes, there should be an easier way to provision the "bare-metal" of these nodes with the required operating system and applications. MAAS was included as part of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS Beta 2 and Canonical see it as a way of allowing administrators to treat group of physical servers as a "cloud-like resource". This should in turn make it easier and quicker to deploy cloud services such as OpenStack and Hadoop. Shuttleworth sees the density of nodes in data centres as rapidly increasing.

This is happening with Atom-based servers (such as the SeaMicro SM10000-64HD with 768 Atom cores) appearing on the market and the promise of denser and lower power consuming ARM-based servers in the future. But Shuttleworth notes that the catch to increased node density is "in the cost of provisioning" and that without tools like MAAS, "hyperscale" node densities wouldn't be economic. He believes Ubuntu's lack of licensing restrictions and tools like MAAS make it ideal for these systems, to turn them into a more dynamically configurable platform.

MAAS is described as "the next step in the development of Orchestra", and uses many of the same technologies as the earlier Canonical provisioning platform. MAAS provides a way, using DHCP and PXE booting, to configure a system so that it can install Ubuntu images on any machines that boot up and have a MAC address recorded with the server. When those machines PXE boot, MAAS adds them as nodes and then can add them to a pool of systems for dynamic allocation. Nodes can also be added through the MAAS web interface or by installing Ubuntu Server on the node and telling it to find the MAAS instance you want it to work with. The latter method also allows use of MAAS without giving up DHCP control.

The MAAS system then uses Juju, Canonical's application installation and management platform, to configure nodes from the pool and deploy packages to those nodes. In an example, a one-line command deploys a MySQL database to one of two nodes, while another three commands deploy WordPress to another node, relate the WordPress and MySQL installations and expose WordPress to the world.

Instructions for configuring MAAS are available from the MAAS wiki and the required Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2 is available to download. MAAS is licensed under the AGPLv3.


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