In the ever-evolving landscape of technology and business, cloud adoption has become increasingly crucial for companies to remain competitive and drive innovation. To gain insights into the world of public cloud, we sat down with Hugo Huang, Director of Public Cloud Alliance at Canonical. 

Having worked on Canonical's most important product, Ubuntu, Huang shared his expertise on the benefits of cloud adoption and the challenges companies face in implementing it.

1. Please briefly introduce yourself and tell us how you came to work for Canonical/Ubuntu.

I’m Hugo Huang, Public Cloud Alliance Director at Canonical. I’m driving joint innovation between Canonical and major Hyperscale Cloud Providers, especially Google Cloud (GCP). I’m an electrical engineer by training.

Before joining Canonical, I worked in Telco for more than a decade, during which I traveled to many countries and built 5G innovation labs across Europe, India, and China. Fast forward to 2020, after I completed my MBA studies at MIT, I wanted to continue my passion for technology and join a team to accelerate innovations that benefit more people. 

I felt so fortunate to join Canonical, the Open Source leader and the platform enabling innovations from discovering black holes to ChatGPT. As we are chatting now, across the globe, hundreds of Ubuntu Virtual Machines are starting every second to train Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) models.

2. Please tell us about the product you’ve worked on for Canonical/Ubuntu.

Ubuntu is, of course, the most important product we offer to developers. In the Cloud, every version of Ubuntu published by Canonical is optimized for the underneath hardware to achieve the best performance. For example, we worked with Google and Azure to make Ubuntu the first operating system that supports Arm machines. Ubuntu is also the indispensable engine that powers Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and Azure Kubernetes Sevice (AKS).

Recently, we worked with Google to make Google Distributed Cloud Hosted (GDCH) available to customers who are really concerned about data sovereignty, security, and compliance. Every node of GDCH is running on customized Ubuntu, which makes GDCH fully functional in an air-gapped environment and meets the most stringent compliance requirements, such as FIPS140-2L3. 

So GDCH is perfect for government agencies, Financial Services, Healthcare, and manufacturing industries. You may be amazed that Ubuntu nodes in GDCH solutions can still receive security Livepatch in an air-gapped environment. And customers can also receive the latest security patches for their own customized images. I’m so proud of the innovations we brought to our customers.

3. Can you explain what a cloud operating system is?

Sure, A cloud operating system is a type of operating system designed specifically for cloud computing environments. A cloud operating system typically includes both a host and guest layers. The host layer is the operating system layer that runs directly on the physical hardware “Bare Metal” or on the hypervisor like KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) or VMware. 

A guest operating system is an operating system that runs on top of the host layer. The guest OS provides the application and service runtime environments and interfaces that are used by the applications hosted on that Virtual Machine.

Ubuntu is the host OS for many Cloud services like Google Anthos. And all the versions of Ubuntu guest OS are available on all major hyper scale Cloud providers.

4. How are Ubuntu and Google Cloud Platform integrated?

Ubuntu is the key component for all the major products of the Google Cloud Platform. You can launch Ubuntu VM on Google Compute Engine (GCE). You can choose Ubuntu as the node OS for your Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) clusters. When you run your application on App Engine or Cloud Run, your application is actually pulling Ubuntu packages. 

When your company chooses Google Distributed Cloud Hosted as your private cloud solution, your workloads will all run on an Ubuntu host OS. When you run your application on Anthos, again, it’s on Ubuntu. Ubuntu is enabling Google Cloud to meet all your needs.

5. What are Ubuntu Pro's main security advantages, and how do they outweigh the competition?

Ubuntu Pro expands Canonical’s ten-year security coverage to an additional 23,000 packages beyond the main operating system covering the critical infrastructure and open-source applications. Ubuntu Pro provides security patches for popular applications and toolchains, such as Ansible, Node.js, Rust, Python, etc.

Ubuntu Pro provides non-stop security for CVEs. It covers critical, high, and selected medium Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs). Critical fixes are applied in under 24h on average. Many zero-day vulnerabilities are addressed under embargo.

Ubuntu Pro is free for up to 5 machines for personal use. On average, on public clouds (AWS, Azure, GCP), Ubuntu Pro costs around 3.5% of the underlying compute cost. We designed an innovative pricing model with the Hypervisor Clouds to ensure our customers capture the value in the DevOps cycles. 

With this wide range of security coverage and the innovative pricing model, I believe Ubuntu Pro will be the first choice for our customers.

6. What does Ubuntu's future hold for cloud computing and security?

Canonical/Ubuntu’s mission is to provide a free and open-source operating system that is easy to use, reliable, and secure. I believe these are the reasons why developers love Ubuntu. As Cloud migration accelerates in most of the vertical industries, more and more enterprise customers choose Ubuntu not only because their developers love Ubuntu but also because Ubuntu is considered the most secure OS in the Cloud.

The future is in the hand of people. And people pay more attention to security in cloud computing. This is why we work with Google to enable security features like AMD SNP-SEV, Security Boot, Confidential Computing, Sovereignty Cloud, and many other cutting-edge technologies. 

I truly believe that as more and more data and applications are moved to the cloud, there will be a growing need for robust security measures to protect sensitive information and prevent unauthorized access; AI/ML will play a critical role in cloud security; data privacy and compliance will be more important for handling data in the cloud; and finally, cloud computing will be more secure than any other computing platform.

Octav Fedor (Cybersecurity Editor)

Octav is a cybersecurity researcher and writer at AntivirusGuide. When he’s not publishing his honest opinions about security software online, he likes to learn about programming, watch astronomy documentaries, and participate in general knowledge competitions.