Canonical claimed MaaS would allow administrators to set up and allocate thousands of tightly packed racks to different groups of users, adding the latest software without IT teams needing to physically visit each machine. MaaS will debut with the Ubuntu 12.04 Beta 2 and is scheduled to drop with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, due on 26 April.
According to Mark Shuttleworth, MAAS was born to bring Ubuntu's attribute (speed, agility, etc) into "the physical world for hyperscale deployments".
MaaS extends Canonical's JuJu dev-ops software for setting up a cloud by adding the capacity to remotely manage, provision and allocate hardware servers. MaaS allows admins to automate firmware updates, burn and test, and also download and test cloud-based applications without need for virtualisation.
The idea is that though MaaS and Ubuntu it becomes easier to manage and deploy a growing number of high-density racks based on ARM and Intel's Atom in a burgeoning category of microserver computing.
Canonical is hoping MaaS will help Ubuntu consolidate its presence against Red Hat Linux and RHEL derivatives such as CentOS as the choice for running clouds. Virtualisation is one popular way to allocate server capacity to different apps and groups of users, by partitioning the physical machine's hard drive. The idea of MaaS, however, is that you get a whole server – not a subset of a server.
The source code is available from Canonical's Launchpad project hosting service. MAAS is planned for inclusion in Ubuntu 12.04, an upcoming long-term support release that will arrive at the end of the month.