Canonical Broadens Commercial OpenStack to Small Clouds

cloud computing

The developer of Ubuntu Linux and related cloud technologies is making it easier for organizations to modernize small-scale, legacy IT estates and transition from proprietary to open-source solutions.

Canonical on Tuesday announced the expansion of its commercial OpenStack offering to small-scale cloud environments with project Sunbeam. This extension is an entirely new project under the OpenStack tree, according to Tytus Kurek, product manager at Canonical. It is hosted under the governance of the OpenInfra Foundation.

On top of Sunbeam, Canonical will now provide a product called MicroStack with full commercial support from the Ubuntu Linux developer. In its first stable release, MicroStack (based on Sunbeam) will only be supported on small-scale cloud environments (1 to 8 nodes).

“This means that Canonical’s commercial OpenStack offering is expanding as historically, we used to require 9+ nodes to qualify for full commercial support,” Kurek told LinuxInsider. “Commercial OpenStack deployments only came through paid consulting engagements. No vendor was an exception.”

Simplifying OpenStack Adoption

The fully open-source project is available free of charge. Enterprise customers can also opt-in for comprehensive security coverage and full commercial support under the Ubuntu Pro + Support subscriptions at the regular price once they complete the deployment themselves.

Canonical announced the new product at the start of the three-day OpenInfra Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The event emphasizes direct collaboration with individuals who build and operate open-source infrastructure using Linux, OpenStack, Kubernetes, and over 30 other technologies.

The goal is to help users compose, integrate, and operate these different technologies to solve real problems at scale. This enables organizations to modernize their small-scale, legacy IT estates and easily transition from proprietary solutions to OpenStack without expensive professional services engagement.

“In line with our mission to amplify open source, we are committed to delivering a production-grade platform to the community that everyone could just deploy themselves,” Kurek explained.

Sunbeam emerged to remove numerous barriers around the initial adoption of OpenStack. He added that it is just the first step toward an autonomous private cloud.

Since one of Sunbeam’s goals is to reduce the entry barrier for OpenStack drastically, operators will now get a fully functional, highly available cloud up and running by executing just 12 simple commands. Kurek advised that this will effectively eliminate the need for historically costly professional services, turning OpenStack back from “consultingware” to software.

Lightweight, User-Friendly Cloud Tech

Sunbeam comes with a lucid interface and very simple installation instructions, making it straightforward for everyone — even those with no previous OpenStack experience.

Newcomers can immediately adopt the project without in-depth technical knowledge to break the ice with OpenStack. Engineers can fire the bootstrap procedure and get a fully-functional cloud in minutes.

A key advantage is its lightweight architecture that makes Sunbeam usable on machines with limited hardware resources. It is compatible with workstations and virtual machines, effectively eliminating the need for dedicated hardware for testing purposes, according to Canonical.

Advancing OpenStack With K8s-Native Architecture

Sunbeam stands apart from other solutions due to its unique K8s-native architecture. By running its services inside containers, OpenStack gets fully decoupled from the underlying operating system, making it much easier for historically challenging operations, such as upgrades.

However, Sunbeam isn’t just another OpenStack running on Kubernetes. By utilizing native Kubernetes principles like StatefulSets and operators, Sunbeam allows users to model, deploy, and manage OpenStack just like they would with any other cloud-native application.

Sunbeam thus helps organizations standardize on a single platform across all their infrastructure and applications. This standardization offers a fresh, modern operational experience with OpenStack.

“More than 70% of OpenStack users also deploy Kubernetes, but Kubernetes is also increasingly used to manage OpenStack deployments themselves,” said Thierry Carrez, the Open Infrastructure Foundation general manager.

Powerful Cloud Computing Option

More than 40 million compute cores of OpenStack are now in production worldwide, according to Carrez. The introduction of Sunbeam opens a new way of deploying and operating OpenStack, from small labs to global-scale deployments.

“We are excited about the accessibility Canonical has brought to both OpenStack and Kubernetes through Sunbeam,” he noted.

Sunbeam ships with the latest OpenStack version, 2023.1 (Antelope). Early adopters will be able to upgrade directly to the 2024.1 version next year through the Skip Level Upgrade Release Process (SLURP) mechanism.

Currently, Sunbeam includes only the core OpenStack services. However, developers plan to rapidly evolve Sunbeam to achieve full feature parity with OpenStack Charms soon.

OpenStack Charms are at the heart of Canonical’s reference architecture for OpenStack implementation. They are software components that package typical OpenStack operational tasks, including upgrades, backups, scale-out, and more.

Test Runs Available

It is easy to test the Sunbeam Project and, at the same time, break the ice of not using open-source solutions. Companies interested in checking out the performance and features can test Sunbeam on their workstations or a VM at

Canonical is hosting a webinar on July 12 about using Sunbeam as an alternative to small-scale proprietary virtualization environments. Attendees will discover how to build a cloud in under an hour.

To participate, you will need a minimum of three machines with Ubuntu 22.04 server edition pre-installed. Each node should have a minimum of the following:

  • 4-Core CPU
  • 16 GB of RAM
  • 2x 100 GB Disk – one for the base OS and one for the block storage
  • 2x NIC – one for the control plane traffic and one for the data plane traffic

Check the seminar website for a list of additional prerequisites.

Jack M. Germain

Jack M. Germain has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2003. His main areas of focus are enterprise IT, Linux and open-source technologies. He is an esteemed reviewer of Linux distros and other open-source software. In addition, Jack extensively covers business technology and privacy issues, as well as developments in e-commerce and consumer electronics. Email Jack.

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