Canonical sees its Landscape software as central to its success in the enterprise. Anticipating greater usage of Ubuntu within the enterprise, Canonical has released a significant update to its Landscape Ubuntu system management tool. “We have really been cranking up the level of effort with Landscape over the past year or so,” said Federico Lucifredi, Canonical’s Landscape product manager. “Landscape is a very important piece of our enterprise strategy, and so Canonical’s commitment has increased dramatically.” The new version of the software, Landscape 12.09, is designed to better manage systemwide software updates. It offers more compliance reporting.
This version also exposes its API (application programming interface) so it can be connected with other system management tools, such as Puppet. Also, the for first time, the software allows administrators to install Ubuntu over a network, in a process called bare-metal provisioning. Launched in 2008, Landscape is systems management software that administrators can use to centrally monitor and update a fleet of computers running either Canonical’s desktop or server Linux distribution. Other new features: Machines can be assigned specific policies for when to update themselves, with options to update only security patches or to go through with all updates. Machines can also be instructed to do updates only during certain hours, so the updates won’t slow the servers during times of heavy usage.
Landscape is typically updated around twice a year. This version, however, is the first updated in nearly a year. The new version however comes with a wealth of new features, aimed squarely at providing all the functionality typically enjoyed by Microsoft Windows management tools. To better serve enterprise compliance efforts, Landscape offers a dashboard that shows which machines in a network have been updated. This can be handy for determining how many servers comply with an organization’s security guidelines around patching. Also helping on the compliance front, the software now features RBAC (role-based access control), which can be used to specify which actions each Landscape user can take, as well as which machines they are allowed to manage.
Landscape’s newly exposed API provides access to all of the functionality with Landscape itself. By writing scripts that call Landscape features through the API, administrators can assemble automated workflows, written in Python or some other shell-friendly programming language, that run across Landscape and other system management tools, such as Puppet or Nagios. For instance, a script could be written so that Nagios, an open source infrastructure monitoring tool, sends alerts to Landscape whenever a server goes offline. Upon receiving this alert, Landscape can, in turn, alert the appropriate system administrators, or take some other corrective action. “The API allows for quite a bit of integration of different popular tools in the enterprise. No single tool does everything, so you have to coexist with lots of other tools, particularly legacy,” software, Lucifredi said.