Today we completed another Landscape development cycle and released version 1.3. Even though we’ve released new point versions every two weeks, now is a good time to summarize what was accomplished and to announce the new features that are being made available today: EC2 support and Custom Graphs. Read on for details.

Cloud Computing: EC2 Support

Landscape 1.3 introduces support for Amazon’s EC2 service. Administrators can now start and stop EC2 Ubuntu instances from within Landscape itself. As part of the integration we offer, these instances will be automatically registered with Landscape so they can be managed right away.

An EC2 cloud in Landscape is basically a Amazon EC2 region (endpoint) associated with an Amazon account. So, one admin can usually register as many clouds as there are regions:

Instances can be started one at a time, or several at once:

Here are our features:

  • automatic registration of EC2 instances: launch an instance and start managing it right away in Landscape;
  • computer history preserved across instance termination: if it was stopped and started from within Landscape, it will be associated with the same computer
  • unified view of instances: it doesn’t matter if one instance is in the US cloud and the other one in Europe. Landscape provides the administrator with an unified view allowing them to be managed together as usual

This is just the beginning: now that the feature is in place, we have many plans for it in the next development cycle. Stay tuned!

Custom Graphs

One of the frequent comments we get about Landscape is that there are too few graphs available to monitor aspects of managed machines. That’s somewhat true: we had to choose a few to start with.

But what other graphs should we add? Many suggestions have popped up: network bandwidth, database performance, web hits, etc. There is no way we could keep everyone happy. Or is there?

We believe Landscape 1.3 brings you what you asked for in the graphs area: customization. Instead of having to choose which new graphs to add, we went ahead and decided you should be able to plot whatever you want in Landscape. This is what we call Custom Graphs.

With Custom Graphs, all the administrator needs to do is write a script that will output a number:

Landscape takes care of periodically running this script on the machines you select and plots the results for you:

Note: the custom graphs feature needs a newer landscape-client package which is currently only available for Ubuntu 9.04 “jaunty” and EC2 instances deployed via Landscape. Client updates for the other Ubuntu distributions will be released shortly.

Knowledge Base

For quite some time now our technical support staff has been writing articles to help our customers through many tasks. These articles are references on to how to solve particular problems and are used all the time.

We decided to make them available to all Landscape customers and this is what we call the Knowledge Base.

There are hundreds of articles available covering dozens of topics:

And it’s searchable, of course:

This is all available to Landscape users, and new articles are being written all the time. Enjoy!

Other Changes and Improvements

During a development cycle we don’t work only on major new features, but also improve existing ones and fix existing bugs. Here are some of the things we also worked on during this cycle:

  • alerts: new offline computer alert, tiggered whenever a managed machine stops contacting the Landscape server
  • Launchpad Authentication: Landscape authentication is now integrated with Launchpad
  • new theme for the Landscape web interface
  • progress bar for activities, to give the administrator an idea about how the activity is progressing

New Release Cycle

Starting now, Landscape will undergo a new release cycle. Instead of having new deployments every 2 weeks, new versions will now be released every 4 weeks instead. This will help us in the planning and deployment of new features.

Thanks to all who sent feedback, comments, suggestions and complaints to the Landscape Team!