Ubuntu Linux has already enjoyed the distinction of being the most popular platform for hosting OpenStack clouds. But now, Canonical has taken its commitment to OpenStack a step further with the announcement of its own OpenStack distribution.

Called the Canonical Distribution for Ubuntu OpenStack, the platform is the company's newest enterprise computing product and is available starting now in public beta form. Canonical is pitching it as the OpenStack solution that offers "the widest range of commercially supported vendor options for storage, software-defined networking and hypervisor from Canonical and its OpenStack partners."

In addition, the company is emphasizing the automation and simplified deployment features of its OpenStack distribution, which are the fruit of its investment in homegrown cloud orchestration and management tools, such as Juju, which it has been developing for years, and the Ubuntu OpenStack Interoperability Lab, another longstanding initiative.

"The Canonical Distribution of Ubuntu OpenStack is a complete autopilot for your private cloud," said Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth. "Point it at a rack or 10 and tell it your preferences for storage, software-defined network and hypervisor, and it will create your cloud automatically, manage and monitor it for you, keep it fully secure, and update it to the next version of OpenStack in due course. This is the solution for people who want a high-performance reference cloud and want to focus on their own applications and workloads rather than the underlying infrastructure."

This move is not too surprising, since Canonical has had most of the pieces in place for a while for building a seamless Ubuntu-based OpenStack cloud. Packaging them together allows the company to make its integrated OpenStack offering official, while also, perhaps, playing a more direct role in deciding just how organizations deploy OpenStack on Ubuntu.

The announcement also marks an important step toward diversification for Canonical's product portfolio. Previously, the company's main business was developing Ubuntu Linux for desktops and servers, in addition to a range of management tools to assist users in deploying Ubuntu Linux. But offering a full-fledged OpenStack distribution means Linux is no longer the only major product in Canonical's suite of software platforms, and could open new directions for the company in the cloud.